A Case For the Beauty of Mourners

For Uncle Sonny in memoriam.


A version of this story ran in the February 2013 issue.

All the men there, fathers, brothers, sons
kissed each other on the mouth and their tears
mixed together on their faces dark with sun—
at times forgetting how to keep their heads
from falling over, pushing their chins
to their chests. Their heavy shoulders rising
like storm clouds.

I watched them sob, my own body
overwhelmed with a new and mysterious
sadness. Our chests like the waves of the ocean—
large and sudden. And the women, my mother
and her sisters, walked around like birds
trying to rebuild the nest of twig and grain
already lain at the head of our dead.

The grieving set into motion, settled
into our bodies like a new life.
For what we can no longer embrace,
that ephemeral, that one man, here is a family
of mourners biting through memory
for rationalization. And how, always,
we come up empty.