The Life You Gave Me

—for my grandfather, Hermann

It could not fit in a velvet box with a
velour ribbon tied twice nor could it be worn,
an evening gown blue as the generous, sad sea.
Not a stone, not a car, not a dog with pleading
eyes to please get the bone before it’s gone forever.
It wasn’t green, it didn’t sing but started quiet,
as an egg splitting in the waters. Not chapped hands
in winter, not webs behind the bed, not the pitch
perfect way oaks whip in a storm.
Listen to this gift burn. Air coming and going
in a nostril. Upper eyelid drooped and creased,
a delicate gate. The way I open the door with my left,
close it with my right. Footfall on tile. You watching me
in my dreams, reaching your eyes out as if to say
take it, I don’t need it where I’m going
arms laden with white roses, one for each year
you lost, one for each of mine.