Today I was asked
And will you visit your mom’s family back East?
But you haven’t been back,
not in fifteen years.
Why the fuck not?
People pilgrim to Elvis’ grave, Faulkner’s too, but
you don’t care about seeing your own daughter’s.
Daughter’s grave, daughter’s daughter -
on the tombstone it says,
Theirs was a joyous life filled with love
Tell me about her life,
about the joy and love that filled it:
tell me stories about her,
my dead mother
your dead daughter.
I have her blue eyes, her thick hair.
I wear her gold wedding band.
I like telling the sleeping bag story –
the one where she didn’t want a wedding ring,
just some new down sleeping bags,
and my dad talked her into a gold band
Every June, you send that birthday card
with a $25 check that I never cash and your signature,
but no note. If you knew me you’d know
words matter more than money anyway.
I understood you didn’t love me that year
that the birthday card was for the wrong age.
You don’t even know how old I am.
Don’t I matter?
Am I not all you have left of her?
I wonder if you drive red cars –
I wonder if you buy cakes on her birthdays –
we still do.
I wonder if you keep some of her things all these years later –
I wonder what you do every August 2nd.
No, I said, no I won’t visit them
the distance is too great.