great uncle

I don’t know exactly
how to write about
missing you, but

there is a warm familiarity
in crumbling dirt between my fingers,
sharpening a trowel on a damp whet stone,
discovering the first tiny leaves of a plant
straining triumphantly up from earth;

there is an ache
at seeing the dry grass
now occupying the space
where your roses used to bloom–
I used to pick the thorns
off of their thick stems,
marvel at the smooth white
wounds I left behind.

I wonder whether
the tar in my lungs
will do to me what the
tar in yours did to you.

I imagine us having
matching yellowed fingertips,
dirt beneath our nails.

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