Mourning Rites (Or: How We Bury Our Sons)

— Simone John

Gather his sneakers from each corner of the house.
Bury them at the basketball court. Cut the net
from the rim and place it in your purse.
When the sound of Jays on concrete
makes a sob crawl up your throat, finger

the nylon like prayer beads. Recite his middle name
until it sounds like a chant. When his favorite cereal
goes on sale, buy a box for every song
you’ll never dance to at his wedding.
On Sundays, listen to voicemails he left you

like hymnals. Fold his unfinished homework
into a paper plane. Carry it in your wallet
until receipts rub math problems to dust.
Start collecting souvenir bibs for children
who will never call you grandma.

Do not expect anyone to understand
what it means to be a one-woman jazz funeral
to sway to a brass band no one else can hear.
They have never known what to make of our mourning.


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