Memorial Day

Thirty years to the day
after we spread dad’s ashes
in the cornfields of his youth

he stands in front of me
even after I pinch myself
to be sure I am not dreaming.

He is the younger version of himself
that I never met
being born twenty years into his marriage.

His lips move but no sound.
I ask him to repeat himself.
His lips move but no sound again.

I ask if he can bring Albuquerque rain.
He shakes his head.
I hear the mechanism click

that turns the water on
to the drip system in the garden
for butterfly bushes and bee balm.

He shakes his head.
He laughs soundlessly
and passes through the kitchen sink

to the outdoor barbecue
on Memorial Day.
I do not think chemists

who made World War II bombs
bigger and more explosive
are commemorated on this day.

In the Chicagoland house of my youth
we never had a barbecue
so why would he start now?

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

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