Every time my father dies, I write a poem.
Say it is an offering or testament
though it is he who offers me the white stone
he found in a persimmon.
My father lives on, faithful.
My mother tends his garden
of marigolds, oregano and a giant fir.
A nest in the top branches is an omen,
an image of the reliquary his mind is.
Let me tell, let me sing, let me pray—
be still, he’d whisper, and think of Christ,
his great journey out of this world,
taking only the most needful thing.
He’d say—Don’t say anything about me
when I die. Just let all the people say
Roxane Beth Johnson is the author of Black Crow Dress (Alice James) and Jubilee (Anhinga). Her poems have appeared in The Pushcart Prize, Harvard Review, Georgia Review, and elsewhere.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.