Road Construction Ahead

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When I think back to the chaos before we left
for Aya’s funeral, I hear my brother’s shouting:
What have you done! What did you do? He’s heaving
his son up by the ankles, shaking, making
him cough up what he’s swallowed: that pill—my aunt’s—
Cardizem, blue, enormous. How kids love—
love—to get into stuff while we are lost
in preparations. I see that shaking, mixed

with a memory of the funny explosions
from Sam’s old video, Road Construction Ahead:
when George, hard-hatted, shouts All-Clear! the cliffs
shudder, then surge down into crashing waves
of dust, cycling over and over: slow spume
weightless in air—unfurling, floating up.
Want to see it again? George asks, and Sam,
two years old, laughs at the screen, Yes! Yes! The clouds
reverse, un-pulverize, and rise again
backwards into rock cliffs. O the cheer
of ashes, ashes all fall down, fall up—

and then: choked stasis. How much of a cliché
is it to say we could see our breath? I see
eerie, stubborn puffs, oddly substantial
in January chill: our nothing-into-not-
quite-something hesitating, like thoughts dazed
into heavy thought-clouds that won’t thaw.
We stand around the grave. How steep it seems,
how deep the grave itself, how hard to hold
Sam up in my arms, though he behaves;
do I stamp to keep my feet un-numb? I don’t
register a word the minister says,
or the minister himself. I just feel the air
flat and steep and frozen in the silence
after he stops speaking—until, squirming,
Sam has enough and breaks out with a shout,
Want to get down! Want to get into that hole!