On the drive from the chapel to the burial
ground we stare out each window like owls.

We blast Hallelujah & Purple Rain, shout
the lyrics so loud we force ourselves to cry.

Most my friends are not poets, so I don’t say
how what we’re doing amounts to a kind

of elegy, the way Julian drove a hundred miles
to be the thirteenth car in the procession,

how when Michael died those years ago
we met in the dark in Central Park to run loops

& loops to cope. There’s nothing else to do
but keep close. I learned this long ago, chasing

Julian & Nick through the backwood miles
of Van Cortlandt’s hills, how, in those moments

I fell behind, a quick sprint to kill the distance
between us would’ve been easier than spending

the whole race trying to keep up. Death is its own
miracle—it happens whether you believe in it or not.

So touch each swinging arm beside you while
you can & graze your partner’s hair each day

like you would a tapestry. Last night we sat
with Julian’s mother, who is learning how to live

with cancer, & I wondered to myself what
courage it must take to be daily in the face

of death & then to show up at a wake, touch
the body’s waxen face, kiss the widow

on the cheek, & hold someone. I didn’t ask.
We toasted the memory of our friend’s

father & I said something about bubbles
of joy & the families I have sought out

in the aftermath of mine. I was wine-drunk
& scared. I still am. & life is its own blitzen

fish-scaled splash along the surface of a pond.
We are here though, trying, running through

the 90s hits on a playlist someone else made
for us, the procession jutted through, split

& split some more by other cars, the city its own
graveyard in the distance & I’m thinking

of how, at the burial, I noticed the father’s plot
sat atop a new patch of grass that used to be

a road—it had all the contours & design
of that which was made to bridge a gap

between grass & not be grass itself. But
it’s grass now. & the priest said something

about dust, something about turning, something
prepositional & I’m thinking too about all

I don’t know & how it’s dust-struck & drifting
& how I don’t know if you’re sick, you reading

this, or if you’re close to dying or far
away from love or if in the marble-dark eyes

of the stranger I passed on the street today
there was something I missed that I could’ve

gone back to tend to like a tree caught
between two cracks on the sidewalk, twisting

through vines & weed for a small embrace
of sun. I miss you already, life. You’re behind

the gaze of everyone who looks back at me with love
& caught in the air between us, too. You’re here now,

I know. But I’m trying to grow used to loss.
It’s hard. I don’t know how anyone does.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of two collaborative chapbooks, as well as the books, Blood on Blood (Unknown Press), and In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (forthcoming 2017, CCM Press). He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches at the City College of New York, and lives in Harlem.
Devin Kelly