We pranced along fresh dirt and performed our versions of the cha-cha and foxtrot on Emma Rixington, Beloved Wife, Mother, Grandma, Aunt, August 12, 1869 - July 15, 1955, Will Be Missed By All. You smirked at the thought of her rancid and bony hand snatching my naked left foot, and I giggled about taking you with me. Our crazy dancing broke a ceramic vase settled against the gray headstone, leaving a violet to wither among the shards. I poured some lemonade on it to make it feel better. We laughed at the drenched flower as the wind picked up, cooling our sweaty bodies. Mrs. Rixington woke up, and we ran off.


We rustled those "flower wannabes" you always called them with every somber step surrounded by nude trees. Your grandma died a week prior, and I paid the respect you deserved. But parting came paradise in the form of inheritance, and we gabbled about your new journey after graduation while I would be stuck here fixing lemons. In a flash you pulled me to the ground, begging for a leaf angel. I obeyed, and you tossed a pile of them on my face before scurrying off. I chased after, leaving my six-second artwork that looked like a drunk had been punted out of Heaven.


We got hungry and fought over our new friend's nose, who you christened Snowzor the Evil Ice King. You had hoped his crooked arms and scowling expression would spook the children when it would slowly melt into the depths of Hell. Nineteen weeks was as far as we could make it, but you still kept in high spirits as I wondered what was next. A snowball smacked me back to reality as you sloshed your way around that beast. We raced back to the house, last one making hot cocoa. You grappled me, and we fell into a white poof. Snowzor would have been disgusted.


Raindrops dance the Viennese Waltz on Susan Burwick, December 3, 1948 - April 9, 2016, Always Loving, Always Loved. Alzheimer's grabbed tight and stripped you away piece by piece. I told you our stories every day, and tiny smirks among drool gave me hope. I scoop up some dirt, hastily plant a violet before a groundskeeper takes notice, and pour a bottle of lemonade to quench its thirst. A slight breeze ruffles my remaining white hairs, so I will stand here a little while longer, thinking maybe, just maybe you'll break through the ground, clutch my crumpled feet, and drag me with you. I promise I'll laugh all the way.

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Jeff Hoard lives north of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and son. He graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and had two poems featured in The Central Review. You can find him at