On an April night that seems sacred
by way of the sky’s spectacular design,
you take me to see your father’s grave.
Nothing about this is sad.
It is both celebratory and matter of fact.
As if he and I are being introduced,
and I am expected to look him in the eyes,
the same German blue as yours,
and firmly shake his hand.
When the headlights break the dark
that lies quietly over Mt. Olivet,
the wet clover and shorn grass
luminesce like a jeweler’s case.
The marble stones and caryatids
give back a portion of the glow.
Before we can even reach
the curve where he rests,
we grow stunned and still.
Three fawns and a doe
who were at rest in the dew,
rise up and briefly bolt.
Perhaps they detect a calm
in our breathlessness.
They halt their retreat and turn.
Eyes echo the beaming headlamps.
The middle two soon kneel again,
while the other sentinels stand.
Minutes pass, easy as sleep.
Silent and sudden, on the right,
a majestic buck appears.
He assays the scene, catches a scent,
shakes his massive head.
At once, they all flush and break.
Their white tails flash, and then,
quick as instinct, they are gone.
It’s hard to say what we think,
here on the seam between
this world and that.
We know the lay of the land.
Moments, days, years.
Every living thing that ever was and is,
all come to the same pass.
The wonder that quiets our tongues
makes us wonder how long
this gift of grace can last.