Memento Mori

Memento Mori

          For my father

The mortician gave you a smile you never had

Your folded hands upon the cross felt like wax

The grandchildren kept exchanging the tiny icons

We placed upon on your chest, nothing felt right.


The father who used to annoy me rose

From the death bed as an angel, who circled

The roof of my house in the guise of a white crane,

To undo the knot of my soul tied in the letting go.

I’d like to believe that in the first morning

When your soul left your old, tired body

You sent the gift of secret strength

To all of us, according to our want and need.


To whom do I owe these glorious mornings,

When the sun makes the sky manifest as a soul?

I owe these mornings of hope to the kind

And merciful God, who made you and made me.

Inside the grave of yellow clayish soil

At the Vatra Monastery in Michigan

Your body does its own journey of returning

To the dust of this earth. It’s peaceful there.


In the end you agreed with me about us

Becoming nothing but stories, sharing

Not much more than memories half-remembered

When the body grows tired of itself.

“Hai, stati sa ne mai amintim” Come, stay a bit,

Let us remember for a little while. But this morning

My words feel as rigid as the sick and dying body,

Weak in recalling the last moments when we spoke.

My poem fails to give you the presence you had.

Your folded words upon the final prayers feel like wax.

The grandchildren keep listening to your final voicemails

That sing you alive in our ears. Nothing feels right.

29 December 2022

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