Home Again (After the Funeral)

Litter pans, needing the scoop.
A handful of online messages of condolence.
You still haven’t grieved.
Kids expectant and ready to live again.
Groceries to buy. Work to catch up.
Expectations to meet.
Condolences but expectations.
Boxes of your mother’s stuff.
A serious dearth of hugs.
The locket with photos of your children, yours again.
A snow globe, a music box, fake candles.
The newspaper where you put your mom’s obituary.
A will waiting to be settled in the future.
A wall of memories waiting in the corner.
Too much to want to do and not enough emotion left.

Grief Buried

Less than a month ago, I was helping
place my mom’s ashes in the ground,
surrounded by sand, then dirt.

Yesterday, I buried one of my cats
in the back yard, as men nearby smoke pot,
pretending not to see me. I was pretending, too.
Pretending not to care about the losses.

I find another root, grab the pruning shears,
Wonder how so many thick roots stretch across my yard
With no plants nearby.

I dig deeper, trying to make a hole big enough
For a cardboard box
Not much bigger than the box
My mother’s ashes were in.

There may be a distinction between
I want for nothing and
I want nothing,
but I don’t know what it is.

The box goes in the hole.
I shovel the dirt back on top.
The smokers ask how I’m doing

I don’t know how to mourn
or how to keep losing.

Every emotional door that opens
leads to another brick wall.
Every loss leaves me cold,
tired, unsure.

In the end, just like every other time,
This will all burn. I’ve already got a head start.

Bill Abbott @slamguy is the author of “Let Them Eat MoonPie,” the history of poetry slam in the Southeast. He has been published in Ray’s Road Review, Radius, The November 3rd Club, Flypaper Magazine, and The Sow’s Ear. Mr. Abbott lives in Ohio and teaches creative writing at Central State University.