Kneeling to carve back the grass encroaching
like cuticles on a fingernail, I noticed how close
her flat headstone was to the others around hers.
Watering the flowers at his wife’s grave,
an old man told me they’re placed above
the abdomens, not the heads, as you’d expect.
I think he meant to explain they were less crowded
underground than it appeared, but I didn’t follow.
I pictured a pair of rotten feet standing on my mother’s
head, her green feet standing on another’s head,
and so on in a horizontal grid, gaudy totem poles.
I wasn’t sure what part of her body I stood over,
but I stepped aside as if she could feel my weight,
like when I was a child and she’d lie on the carpet
and tell me to walk all over her back. I’d laugh
at the funny feeling underfoot, the squishy,
bony, fleshy ground I massaged by walking,
losing my wobbly balance turning around
after each short lap from shoulders to butt. Yet
standing off to the side of her grave felt wrong.
Every year, every visit, like the bashing of a gong.