N 30° W 88° (For Uncle Larry)

The moment your ashes

drop into the Gulf,

we understand something

unspoken, some fear that chills

the bone and burrows into

the deepest marrow,

too tender to touch

or be named. It is the

feeling that comes

with a perfect silence

in which no echo is heard

and even breath stills.

 

Here we watch, awed to stone

and anchored to the sight

of the ashes resting there,

afloat like the grey froth

that clung to your lips

when you strained

in your crisp hospital sheets,

feverish from the meningitis

swelling your brain

like some overripe

fruit ready to split open—

only it didn’t. 

You fought to live

and left life later

a changed but contented man

asleep in a warm bed.

 

We remember you that way

(tucked in silence),

and on your final voyage

we fear what is not said,

but break through its silence 

with bursts of storytelling

without tears.

We watch the currents

for what seems like enough

time, yet not enough time

to say goodbye. 

 

Even the water seems

hushed in these moments

as your ashes drift farther

away from us.

 

It is this water that used

to drown me in nightmares,

water stained into

an impenetrable brown

as if steeped too long

in the Mississippi heat,

water now made beautiful

by your presence.

 

We light up cigars

and your brother smokes a joint,

the final “fuck ’em”

and fine tribute

to the defiant spark 

of wisdom you left behind.

 

We are enveloped

in a deep musk, smoke and sea

sticking to us like sacraments,

while we sail back to shore,

letting you go.