Elegy for No Grandfathers

            —after Melody S. Gee

The first grandchild touches the picture
and remembers a backyard tea party interrupted
by news of a faraway grandfather’s death.

The second grandchild touches the picture
and remembers a man shaking a rake clotted with leaves
and screaming—get out of the street.

The rest of the grandchildren touch the picture,
in no particular order, and recall nothing.

None of us knew our mother’s father,
a Parisian who left when she was two.

So be it. We never had to not want them to go
or pretend to not want them to go.
We never had to mourn

if pour pleurer means
wanting back someone who’s passed.

Still, these unknown and unremembered souls
walk with our bones, see with our eyes,
hear with our ears, talk with our tongue.

Yes, what else is there but this confluence
of family? Oh yes, what else, we, the ungrieved.

Cindy Veach’s poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, North American Review, Chicago Review, Prairie Schooner, The Carolina Quarterly, Sou’wester, The Midwest Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, Paterson Literary Review and others. She was a finalist for the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize, and the recipient of an honorable mention in the Ratner-Ferber-Poet Lore Prize and the Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest. She manages fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations and lives in Manchester, MA.

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