your father, greying now and shrinking,
swings the leaf blower out before him
and hurls the red tree’s leaves back into the garden
while your mother pulls weeds like failed lines
from a poem she will never finish. i want to ask her,
what is the name for grief when it is no longer grief?
did your parents plant the red tree the year you died?
or the year we cut down all the palms
that lined the street and cracked the concrete
as they fell. why do things like this persist?
when a mind has died what is the name
for the breaking of the world inside it?
my daughter – now five – runs by me,
all language (by which i mean the world)
is immanent inside her. if you had lived,
what would you have said to her
as she curled herself against your ribs?
when i explain the world and what it was
before she was born, she goes quiet
and disappears into her own gaze
as though watching her own ghost
walking through a room,
as though she sees a world
that never was.