The Light the Living See by Ada Limón

We’re stopped in Subiaco
    to lay stones on stone
        at a fellow penner’s grave

where we jaw, punch-drunk
    and carsick, about being buried
        or burned up. “I don’t want

to take up any more space,”
    I tell the boys, both fathers now,
        who, shaped like trees, lean

toward the earth. I imagine
    their old daughters leaving a slice
        of gas station moon pie,

rye, a nickel plated acorn, ladies
    picnicking in the shade of a pine
        as immobile as the body’s husk.

Chemicals and maggots, sure,
    but also a place to grieve, a creek,
        a constellation of death to count on.

These men know something
    I don’t. That someone will grieve
        past their bones, count on them

to be there among the shaded trunks
    of pines like the stark bars
        of a generous cage.

(What if no one comes to the cliffside
    where my skin’s ashes set sail?
        No mourning kin, no lost hitchhiker.)

But friends, it’s lunchtime,
    and doesn’t my mouth still work;
        my appetite, my forked tongue?
Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a finalist for the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Award, and one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books include Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. Here work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Observer, Harvard Review,, and elsewhere.