by Mark Ramirez

On a night in late summer I straddled
a stool in my grandfather’s basement bar,
eyes glassy and streaked in the heat,
body numb from hours of beer.
August of 2011, ten months before
the diagnosis, a year before I touched my lips
to the forehead of his body that was then only
so much skin and meat waiting to turn
to ash. The television gestured mutely
in the corner, its glow outshone by
the light of letter-bent neon. I played with
my empty glass and let my eyes marble in
their sockets until they came to rest on the
back shelf and its bottle of Hennessey.
Take it easy on the liquor my father said,
his grey whiskers loud as he moved towards
the bathroom. The door closed and Pop poured
two brims of honeyed fire. We downed
our glasses and a chill breezed through
the window, touching our faces
like the first drops of an autumn rain.
He lit a cigarette and we sat in silence,
sharing the time we both knew
was burning away.

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