there’ve been more services this year
than years past

and I know now how to go to those
for friends whose family I never meant
to tell them that their son or daughter
was a good friend and person
that I am glad I met them
and to hear about them
from when I hadn’t met them yet

and it feels shaky in the way
that they don’t know me

but still trust that my being there is valid
and they are kind to me and to the group of people
who have all tried to unite here
to remember and to honor

I almost don’t feel like I have the right
to say their names
to lay claim to them.

I keep the words softly in my mouth
like tea that’s warm and cooling
and it can’t be swallowed or spoken
and I try to give their names the meaning
that they deserve

and have deserved

and we try to remember and we talk in the parking lot
and we go home

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