My Pilates session was difficult tonight. I found several exercises beyond my physical capabilities. Feeling weak is foreign to me. But tonight I felt weak.

After my session, I got into my car and sat. Slowly I put the key in the ignition and started the engine. As I headed toward the freeway, I focused on the radio. As always, it was tuned to NPR. Terry Gross was interviewing the Inaugural poet, Richard Blanco. She asked him to read a poem he had written about his father’s grave, “Bones, Teeth.”

The hole in my chest, the hole I’ve worked so hard to cover these past months, was again gaping open. Before he even began to read.

Bones, teeth. His bones, his teeth. Does his hair decay, I ask myself as I watch my mother on her knees pouring water over my father’s gravestone, her palm gently washing the bronze letters as if she were stroking his face once again. With school scissors she cuts the blades of grass from edges, yanks the weeds creeping underneath the crown of thorns still alive 10 years since she planted it in the dirt that is my father now forever.

His wedding band, cufflinks, bones, teeth – that’s probably all that’s left of him here, I tell myself …

As I drove, grief enveloped me like fog. I thought of my father’s watery grave in the Gulf of Mexico. A grave my mother cannot tend. I wondered who will sprinkle my ashes into the Gulf.

My father would have loved to have heard the story of Sophie. He would have asked me about her each time we spoke. He would have told me to take it slow. Be gentle with her. Don’t frighten her. Let her take the lead.

I feel him each night as I feed her. As I pet her. As I pick her up and hold her close.


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