Turning to Salt • Penny Freeland

I imagine you in the pubs:
wide lapelled suits,
pant legs falling around your shoes,

accent thick as your dark hair,
carrying a black and white of Mama.

I went to your funeral,
bangs cut straight, new dress.
Mama said your family had to see I was cared for,
your sister checked my underwear for holes.

Flowers and flags, tears,
incense and chanting.
I threw up in the car on the way to Pinelawn,
you rode in a box just ahead.

I returned to second-grade,
the day before Halloween,
to boys in skeleton costumes.

Mama cried, barely spoke for a year,
lighting candles near a make-shift altar.

When she wasn’t looking,
I’d sniff your overcoats
and put my hands in the pockets.