Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Seaport Diner, Port Jefferson Station

(First appeared in Mudfish, a literary journal, though I don’t remember which issue; and is also in The Soup of Something Missing.)

The Seaport Diner, Port Jefferson Station

My mother and a cousin decide to go to The Seaport Diner,
my father’s favorite, for a cup of coffee on New Year’s Eve.
Though he’s been dead for six years, they take him along.
The black marble box that holds his ashes is placed
in a shopping bag, then on their table next to a window.
On another night the waitress might have asked about the box.
But tonight the diner is crowded, she doesn’t notice
that two women asked for three cups of coffee.
There are many ways to suck the marrow out of time’s bones.
This is my mother’s. No one’s seen the inside of the box.
Though at times I’ve thought all of heaven was within.
By refusing to bury it my mother is unwittingly hiding
my father from the devil. At a small table in the center of the box,
my father sits. Ashes piled to his knees, he remembers
flames and fears he’s in hell. If he walked forever
he would discover the wall and on the other side of the wall
my mother’s hand holding the spoon she stirred coffee with.

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