Sunday, July 26, 2015

i wish my father had a grave

I wish my father had a grave
where I could kneel and say
“i’m sorry”
where I could kneel and say
“i love you”
where I could kneel and say
boy, Dad, you sure would love these Cubs this year.
I wonder what you’d think of magic in the clubhouse,
no undershirts, pitchers batting eighth, and
eight games over .500.

I wish my father had a grave
so I could go and sit in silence.

I wish my father had a grave
so Josie and I could visit – oh, Dad,
you would like Josie. You would
get a kick out of Josie.
He’s got this funny tuft of blond hair
sticking straight up sometimes
from the top of his head,
and he eats avocados.
When we visit he’ll run from grave to grave,
through the headstones,
along the hedges, chasing

I wish my father had a grave
so I could wander through the cemetery
greeting people I never knew,
like the boy who lived 29 days,
the woman who lived 103 years.

I wish my father had a grave
so I could lay my hand on his gravestone,
trace the letters of his name,
read his epitaph.
He might have written one, you know.
Seven words to make us laugh.

I wish my father had a grave
so we could spread a blanket, have a tea party.
A checkered blanket and a pot of Earl Grey.
Someone else, please, bring the scones,
a pat of butter, a jar of jam.
Or Dad, would you prefer a glass of sherry?

If my father had a grave I would travel
the whole day long because
the grave would be in Keithsburg, Illinois,
where Grandpappy and Claire are buried.
Where your sister and your brother are buried.
Where there is a headstone in the shape of a train
because some years ago there was a derailment, or something,
there, in Keithsburg. That is, at least, what I remember,
as every summer we made the day’s drive through Illinois
from its one edge to the other,
from the big city to the tiny towns.

I remember the last words you spoke to me.
“Thanks for coming.”

I wish my father had a grave
where I could kneel and say “I’m sorry,”
where I could kneel and say “I love you,”
where I could go and sit in silence.


  1. I wish you could visit your dad's grave too. I get why people want to be cremated, but I don't get keeping the ashes or spreading them to the winds. I have my pups ashes and I will bury them with my mother when she passes. I would love them put with me, but I want to make sure I know where they are and don't end up being tossed out. There is something about having a place to go, with a headstone, that is comforting. I'm assuming your dad was cremated? If his ashes are still around, maybe your mom and sibs would agree to having him buried near his family? I'm so glad my parents cemetery allows upright stones. So often anymore all that is allowed are the flat stones for easier mowing. Those stones can so easily sink or get overgrown with grass if no one keeps them up and they are lost forever. I love wandering around cemeteries. ~ P

    1. I almost added on the end of the post an explanation of why my dad doesn't have a grave, but ... it's kind of ... unresolved, I guess, and to me there are comic elements ... so maybe a different post someday about The Traveling Urn. My dad was cremated and the ashes are in an urn that probably will be buried in Keithsburg, with my mom, when she passes. My dad was ambivalent about his remains, just instructed us re: the cremation.

      It was not until this year that I thought it would be nice to have a grave to visit. But I, too, like cemeteries. They are peaceful and full of stories! All the pets I came to the U.P. with are buried here by the river -- it is nice to say hello to them each morning.