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One Year

 When I got to his marker, I sat on it,
like sitting on the edge of someone's bed 
and I rubbed the smooth, speckled granite.
I took some tears from my jaw and neck and started to wash a corner of his stone.
Then a black and amber ant ran out onto the granite, and off it, and another ant hauled a dead ant onto the stone, leaving it, and not coming back.
Ants ran down into the grooves of his name and dates, down into the oval track of the first name's O, middle name's O, the short O of his last name, and down into the hyphen between his birth and death--little trough of his life.
Soft bugs appeared on my shoes, like grains of pollen, I let them move on me, I rinsed a dark fleck of mica, and down inside the engraved letters the first dots of lichen were appearing like stars in early evening.
I saw the speedwell on the ground with its horns, the coiled ferns, copper-beech blossoms, each petal like that disc of matter which swayed, on the last day, on his tongue.
Tamarack, Western hemlock, manzanita, water birch with its scored bark, I put my arms around a trunk and squeezed it, then I lay down on my father's grave.
The sun shone down on me, the powerful ants walked on me.
When I woke, my cheek was crumbly, yellowish with a mustard plaster of earth.
Only at the last minute did I think of his body actually under me, the can of bone, ash, soft as a goosedown pillow that bursts in bed with the lovers.
When I kissed his stone it was not enough, when I licked it my tongue went dry a moment, I ate his dust, I tasted my dirt host.

Poem by Sharon Olds
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