MAY 28, THE DAY BEFORE MEMORIAL

I.
Uncle Ted smokes a cigarette.
It’s cherried,
until tufts of smoke
flare from his nostrils.
He rides a motorcycle on weekends.

II.
My dad kneels, solemnly
near his mother’s grave.
He places lilies and baby’s breath
directly behind the headstone.
The Salem Cemetery is generally
slow on Sunday.

III.
The veterans have their crosses lined up
neatly in perfect rows.
The stars and stripes wave freedom
and stink of death.
My Grandpa fought in World War II.

IV.
My mother sighs
as she gets in the stifling hot car.
I prop my swollen knee
on a fluffy pillow
and close my eyes.