What Grieving Was

That was not the summer of aspic
and cold veal. It was so hot

the car seat stung my thighs
and the rearview mirror swam

with mirage. In the back seat
the leather grip was noosed by twine.

We were not poor but we had
the troubles of the poor.

She who had been that soft snore
beside the Nytol, open-mouthed,

was gone, somewhere, somewhere
there was a bay, there was a boat,

there was a scold in mother’s mouth.
What I remember best

is the way everything came and went
in the window of my brief attention.

At the wake I was beguiled
by the chromium yellow lemon pies.

The grandfather clock’s pendant
of unaffordable gold told the quarter hour.

The hearse rolled forward over the O’s
of its own surprise.

Lynn Emanuel, “What Grieving Was” from The Dig. Copyright © 1984, 1992, 1995 by Lynn Emanuel. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.
Source: The Dig (University of Illinois Press, 1992)