for my grandson, Ian, 1995-2009

I dream walking a road, holding a dry branch,

whose bitter purple fruit I dread to swallow.

Those who brought me here work, stooping

to lift handfuls of wind and grapes,

loading boxes as a dust cloud boils over.

Entering a disturbed room, a stranger’s fingerprints

stain every touchable place—the bare sole of a foot,

underwear folded in the dresser, a pillow and blanket;

Grandmother, her thumb dripping holy water,

makes the sign of the cross on my forehead.

A doctor draws the sheet over a face I know,

snapping shut his black leather bag like a coffin lid

after a wake. I’m having trouble staying whole—

what leaks through my pores feels like soul.

Copyright © 1999-2018 Juked