Punchbowl Cemetery

For last week’s poetry class, we had to write about our favorite place. And because I had done a similar exercise in high school theatre and for my L7 English class, my favorite place was readily accessible.

We wrote for half an hour. This was my in the moment scribble, my pen to paper fantasma. I won’t ask you to like it, but to read it out loud…

at my father's grave...
at my father’s grave…

I am at Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu Hawaii. The drive up is mysterious with its twisty turns, grand greenery and then – the final procession opens up like hope in a sad song. Which is funny because I am going to see my father’s grave. The Pacific Ocean is twinkling below hugging the hotels, houses, and schools.

I am flying inside the white tall gates. The dead volcano is filled with veterans and their families. I am breathing in the silence and choking on the flowers. The trees so magnificent, the lawns so perfect, the resting ground so beautiful. Bomb shelters surround the dead and the dying. I am pleased my father is on the hillside. He’s in a good place. It’s a good spot. Shaded by a wide tree, crowded by known and unknown graves.

I walk between the bones and the bodies creating my own invisible line. It seems rude to step on them. I read: 22 unknown, 15 unknown, 16 unknown, 10 unknown and later I learn these are unknown parts not bodies from WWII and WWI.

My father was born in 1947. He died in 1980. Born in Beijing, died in Chiang Mai.

I am told to say something to my father. I am standing. I am sitting on the itchy soft grass. I am brushing the debris off of his gravestone. I am ripping the grass hairs so I can grab the upside down vase and clean it with the water on the other side of the street. I am always with tears. He is always with me.

I am swallowing enough silence to last me for days.

***

like hope in a sad song

I am breathing in the silence and choking on the flowers

Bomb shelters surround the dead and the dying

I am told to say something to my father.

***

inside dead volcano
bomb shelters
beauty and graves
sad songs of hope
and me

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