Our family never understood why you never married
______________why you didn’t have children.
Mother, going on & on about her friends at bingo
who could’ve used a man________like you
________around the house.
I ask her about the man in the front row—
______________the roommate, she says._____Instead
of the diagnosis,________instead of explaining
how or why, isn’t it enough to say:
______________no more?________Who has time
for better dreams than these? Pray for a miracle
or a good night’s sleep, won’t you?______Pray
________for the right ghosts_____to walk you
to the end of each season.
______________Uncle, a story before you sleep:
here, a child___________dressed in dust.
_____________________This time you wait for him
before you leave._____________Here, another:
once, I ran, face first, into a mirror
________shattering it, because I didn’t recognize
my reflection, because I didn’t see a reflection at all.
________I feel each shard______opening me
as I walk toward you & that man, now standing beside
________your open casket. He is there
____________________________in every photograph
of you smiling.______I want to kiss him.
________I want to take him into me, soften his body
________with my heat_________& inherit
any pulse you might’ve left behind.______I’m sorry
________for your loss,
____I say,___or he says
______________or neither of us say, I’m not sure.
I have so many questions. I trace
______________your mouth counterclockwise
but____you do not answer.

Hieu Minh Nguyen