I filched a stone from my father’s newly-filled grave,
while the clay was still red clods,
before the turf was laid.
A grave man, he was often stony. I
stonewalled him. I bear the weight
of this, heavy as gravity.
I roll and knead the dark stone in my palm, grip
this nub of grief, this kernel of truth.
It sits snugly on my lifeline.
It’s small and ordinary, this milestone;
somewhat battered, nicked, uneven.
Bits of red dirt cling still to the crevices.
One time I touched my tongue to it, wanting
to taste the clay he lies in, partake
some remnant of it, make it part of me.
It tastes faintly of salt, a mineral communion.
I rub and finger it, the way the tongue
traces the new topography
of the mouth when a tooth falls out.
It’s triangular but has soft, rounded edges.
It feels familiar, well-worn, solid, warm.
But you could break your teeth on it.