Failed to Forget
Ought to stop. I ought to stop and stand
in the memorial garden. Stop and stand,
cease my yammer for five minutes.
Stand and still myself every time we go
to the home town with the home church.
The garden where we laid her ashes.
I should remember, grateful I’m not
dragged fourteen hundred miles to Florida
to look at a polished slab in a deadly file.
This time I failed to forget. I gratified
my ought at the bend of leaves
and flowers at my feet, centered on
a granite pillar, unpolished, without names.
There is the spot, off center.
My father, I, three brothers spooned
the gray powder of her body
into a shallow bowl set
in the heavy earth. If we dug now
we’d find no edge, no stratum
Why then go? To remember ashes?
There are no remains. This is not
a pilgrimage’s end. There are
no inscriptions. Think it
a check to relive recollection.
Begin with her and her children’s choir
beneath a floating cross.
David P. Miller’s collection, Bend in the Stair, was published by Lily Poetry Review Books in 2021. Sprawled Asleep was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2019. Poems have recently appeared in Meat for Tea, Hawaii Pacific Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Clementine Unbound, Constellations, J Journal, The Lily Poetry Review, Ibbetson Street, Redheaded Stepchild, The Blue Pages, and What Rough Beast, among others. His poem “Add One Father to Earth” was awarded an Honorable Mention by Robert Pinsky for the New England Poetry Club's 2019 Samuel Washington Allen Prize competition. He was a librarian at Curry College in Massachusetts, from which he retired in June 2018.