I have been drafting a series of poems for my older cousin Kevin. For the past two years. He died unexpectedly in August of 2016. Everyone still feels his absence. He is a person who means a lot to many people. To me he was one of the few men in my family with whom I didn’t have a complicated relationship. Everything was laughter, be you, and like what you like. He nurtured my love for sci-fi, took me to the movies and the parks, talked to me about comics and Marvel cannon, and was my date to 2 out of 3 of the Roots concerts I attended. His birthday was the 22nd. To honor him, my mother, aunt and I spent that evening watching Black Panther. I miss him. Here are a few pieces from the draft.
at least three signs
A whole deer without antlers
wide eyed and on its side.
A dried and crumpled crow.
A flattened rat with its head still intact.
When I heard you died, I could not help but to think
I was warned and failed to prepare
For this thing that felt so out of order.
This summer I notice all the dead things. I even count them.
Will hold a cigarette between two bloated fingers and remind me of you.
And I will cry.
Is your mother.
How do I read her
After you die?
She stands guarding her door
Not ready to soften the way grief
The way grieving relatives sometime expect.
Her jaw is clenched.
Her shoulders tight.
She is posed to shoo away mourners.
Your dog waits with us on the porch outside the house
Covered in tumors.
Maybe for your return.
You left your reading glasses on an open newspaper from the day before.
Ready to be picked up.
I count six Bud Light cans that did not make it to the blue recycling bin that sits off to the side.
The entire porch still smells like you.
It is no longer a Sunday on the 7th of August.
A day your mother finds you in bed
After your first birthday as an ancestor
She and I talk.
She is watching Grim
And has nodded off to the glow of her television.
We tell each other how happy we are to hear the other’s voice
And hang up.
You are still not here.