How To Say Goodbye


I have taken to looking at photos of dead strangers
on friends’ Facebook pages. One woman ran
a marathon when her son died.
                                         (exhaustion, antidote 
                                         to numbness?)
Your photos do not make me grieve
                                       (What were you wearing
                                       that last time I waved goodbye
                                       in that red rearview mirror?)
I can cry for the marathoner’s son.


Your mother is carrying your ashes
around the world in a ziplock bag.
                                        (Are ashes allowed in airline carry-ons? 
                                        Must they be checked in? What happens 
                                        if the bag is lost en route? Could she bear 
                                        losing you again?)
Maybe I’ll ask her for a handful. Maybe
                                       (Can I ask for a handful of ashes?)
when grey dust lines my nail-beds,
when my palms crease with soot,
when I can feel you slipping
through my fingers, maybe I will know.

(First published in the Boiler Journal:

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