uncle’s body found in a fetal position

encrusted in snow & ice

in hand’s embrace a listerine bottle

lies close to parted lips

eyes spill wide open

frozen salty icicles on lower eyelashes


later, mom doesn’t cry

she kisses his eyes shut

heaves his stiff body to the bathroom

scrubs away reasons

why her son died before her


mom clips finger and toe nails

rinses his black graying hair in sage

smears on bear grease

braids thin hair in sacred red ribbon

and clothes body in buckskin


uncle’s body lies

in a open casket in the living room

family and friends shuffle in with food

fried bread, wild rice

and egg salad sandwiches


mom displays uncle’s belongings

a give-away, something for everyone

she hands me tattered runners

though he never ran, only walked

that long dusty road

from reserve to town


everyday at sunrise

to fetch a daily newspaper

and a bottle of booze


i take the smelly old shoes

leaving mom with family to mourn

outside, i tie the shoe laces

pitch them in the nearest pine branch

old kangaroos dangle against a moonless sky


dedicated to all of those who lost relatives to the bottle.


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