’ve developed a nervous tick since you died.
Numbers, I need to remember
numbers, dates, times when you were here
and when you were not.
August. Eighth month, twenty-sixth
day. August, two-six. Your birthday.
You used to worry that we’d forget it.
August twenty-sixth, nineteen-seventy.
Eight, two-six, one-nine, seven-zero.
You were only forty-seven when you became
as old as time and existed in the middle realm
between earth and whatever comes next.
November fourth, two thousand and
seventeen. Eleven, four, two, zero, one,
seven will always be when we will
drive to the beach or rest
under your Crape Myrtle
the one we planted for you five months
after you left. Its buds are pink and you
would’ve thrived among it’s flavor.
Twenty. The number of years you held me
before I couldn’t call you on my way home
or in the middle of the night. Fifteen. The
number of years my sister existed before
the soft skin
around her eyes.
The twenty-sixth, the fourth.
I hope to find you on those days.
I will count the months, and the years,
the moments of exhaustion
and exposure. The forty-
I’ve been asked how it happened,
the one hundred and three
times I’ve been asked if I’m okay.
And I’m not, so I’ll keep counting,
count the silence,
count your absence away.