Elegy For An Uncle

30 Oct

Your second death, this.  The first you cheated—  
buried alive, then resurrected to describe
paralysis beneath a cave-in.

They dug you out.  But no hands reach you now;
your story is complete.  The tumor pressed you
down in ways no one could defeat

and I despise it.  You would have wanted
to assure me that you’re in a better place.
And I want that for you.  But here,

I fight the enemy of your absence.
I can’t get another handshake or hardy laugh.
There is no father, no husband,

no uncle who donned an apron and cooked
chicken halves on a giant barbecue
he had designed and welded,

no quick joke or story to bring a smile,
no soft voice—the sound of a Vermonter—asking,
Hey there, how you doin’?

I have an early memory: you on Grandma’s sofa
snoring loud.  I am only five or six
and a bit afraid of the great rasp.  

Now, remembering it, I hurt—God gave you
for my Uncle, I’ve known love from you, I miss you—
but I’m willing for the hurt to be good news.

                (for Stephen A. Kittredge, 1945-2009)

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One Response to “Elegy For An Uncle”

  1. ghettoblackify October 17, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    interesting poem

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