Sarah A. Chavez | Cheers to the Dead

I wonder if he’s hungry

there in his grave amongst

the sediment and microorganisms.


The Hmong relatives of his neighbors

bring bowls of rice and vegetables,

sweet dishes whose names I can’t

pronounce and cans of Coke.

All he gets are American flags

and flowers.


Even in death

they won’t let Grandpa eat or drink.

He loved to tell me how

Grandma kept him to one beer

a day after the doctor told them

it was colon cancer

and that first Sunday my dad

brought two forties of Old E,

one for each of them,

You said one beer, Toni.


I imagine the looks on their faces,

how they must have sat

in lawn chairs in the shade, grilling

boneless chicken breasts, raising

their heavy, sweating bottles

to Grandma as she gazed down

from the kitchen window, her eyes

narrow,  lips tight.


So I travel with two six packs

of Anchor Steam in the middle of the night

when the round light of the moon

is all that guides my way through

the cemetery. I grope to find

his head stone, the name and dates

etched in the marble

as in memory, and crack the cap

on each bottle, pouring

one six pack onto the freshly mowed grass

above his body and one

down my throat.


I sit against a tree and we

discuss what will happen

when my mother and grandmother

come by in the morning

after church, with their prissy lilacs

and cheap dollar store flags.

We laugh to think of my mom kneeling

to place the flowers in the built-in vase,

discovering the ground soaked.

What we wouldn’t give to see

the looks on their faces as they drive home,

somber and perfumed with hops.


Sarah A. Chavez


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One Response to Sarah A. Chavez | Cheers to the Dead

  1. Linda Cassidy Lewis November 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s gorgeous. Just beautiful.

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