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David P. Miller

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

of mother-ash.

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.


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