It was back when December was actually cold
That I saw you for the last time.
Something told me quietly, “This will be it”
as I drove over a bridge,
licking the tears off my lips, mixed with your cancer-induced sweat.
It tasted salty.
The man who went to my soccer games
and defended me from both of my parents
manifests himself in every great decision I make.
You’re not around to see the fruits of your labor.
And for that, I apologize. To no one,
every single day.
Before I laid at night to sheepishly ask you to “Show me a sign”
I remembered how this weekend I was talking to a friend
“My grandfather would wait in the parking lot for hours
until my shift finally ended;
“Once, he told my first employer that he wouldn’t let his granddaughter work
At a place where they made racist and sexist remarks.”
You did this while unfolding a newspaper
With a face that read I migrated from Jim Crow
South, I will be damned to let it find its way here.
I cried when I didn’t get my license, and you said
‘You can cry in front of your grandfather
Because you know I love you no matter what, right?’
In the middle of this memory, my friend and I crossed the bridge, an old part of our commute.
I haven’t been here in years.
And no taste of Wherther’s caramel, old-school peppermint, or
Gospel music could have jetted me to the past quicker.*
This was where we listened to Pure Moods;
This was where you said you were proud of my grades;
This was where you asked about my friends. All of them.
And suddenly tears, fresh sweat, a ghostly kiss?
I licked my lips and tasted
The salt of good memories
*Nod to Billy Collins Poem “The Lanyard” (Verses 7-8)