Hacking on the smoke of a borrowed cigarette,
after hearing the news of our stillbirth
and wondering what that means for Anne and I
I am reminded that I come from a long line of stonemasons,
those few who specialize in the art of tombstone crafting.
Hours upon years,
all were lost by the Great Jonathan Morehouse,
born and raised in the Adirondacks.
He’d mutter Hail Mary in a drunken haze
at paintings of saints
in display before the annual art fair at St. Michael’s churchyard
under an oppressive July fourth, mid afternoon sun.
slabs now placed above plots of land
which were once Great Aunt Maureen,
Great Uncle Maxwell,
and Gene Radner, the lone dentist of New Hartford.
While Jonathan blackened his lungs into a familial crest,
Little Leslie “Bugga” Morehouse,
sat inside, counting his own hours.
hunched over, he learned lessons no longer in line with modern Roman Catholic doctrine
found in readings from the Book of Wisdom,
which laid forth visions of an inscrutable future.
trapped in a hole.
reading newspaper on the toilet
jumping off waterfalls.
An arson capital.
bearing treasure buried beneath Utica Club.
A child’s spine,
bent at an unnatural curvature.
Yet it always ended with a story of his son,
born with a hole in his heart,
who heaved, grasping for his father’s hand
over the register at Morehouse Appliances,
as the now Great Bugga Morehouse
inhaled scotch in a cracked out alleyway
across the street, on Cross Street,
muttering Hail Mary.
Little Leslie gasped
at his unfortunate blessing
as an umbilical cord
from ascendant burial grounds
unfurled from a family tree,
wrapping around his neck.
I am with him in that church, in that alley
and we stand together now
outside Buffalo General Hospital.
I can’t bury a nameless boy
but Bugga chokes once more,
as if to reiterate
that we come from a long line of stonemasons.