excerpt from Live Thru This

The Grass Still Grows

I couldn’t bare to see you.
In that oxygen pure room filled with so much death.
The nurses sterilizing the now empty bed next to yours,
Even though the name tag still remains outside the door.

I’ll be back, I say, and go outside into the hall,
Tears burning my eyes and welling up in my throat.
It hurts too much to see you, I cannot face your pain.
I wonder how you can.

I can’t even imagine your bodily torture.
But what I see in your eyes causes even more pain.
You must have known what we felt,
Your eyes sorrowful and pleading, but for what I never knew.

That was the last time I saw you.
Too much pain from your pain to go back.

Then my mother shocked me in midmorning
And told me, so coldly mechanical,
And left me alone to deal with what I had
Always known was coming, but never wanted to be real.

I never cried.
How I wanted to release the tension and pain
That constricted my chest.
But my face remained an iron mask.

Not until they played “Taps,”
And fired the 21 Gun Salute,
Not until the two soldiers in Class A solemnly saluted
And folded the flag and handed it to Grandma.

When I placed my white carnation on your casket,
I wanted to fling it open and shake you back to life.
Only then did the shock recede,
And I realized you were really gone.

Even my baby brother and sister knew,
So innocent in their years, so young,
Yet they understood your death.
“Grandpa’s sleeping. He’s with the angels now,” they said.

It is now cold where you live,
Your white stone hard and unmoving.
The green grass reaching towards the sunlight,
Growing tall and vibrant with life.

Your daughter-in-law’s father,
Who died only weeks before you,
Is only three rows up and a few to the left.
So you are in good company they say.

I have never been to visit you,
Not wanting to face that cold stone pillar.
Knowing that is the closest
I will ever be.

Yet in my mind, I see myself before your grave.
Standing in the silence of your presence.
Tears coursing down my cheeks, giving life to the grass
Which defies my sorrow and continues to grow.

for grandpa ambrosio
(December 7, 1918 to December 6, 1992)