We Do Not Like January

On January 22nd we eat cake and sing happy birthday
and visit the graveyard to drench the soil with warmed thyme infused olive oil.
It seeps through your shoebox casket
falling through the cleft of your lip, almost brother.
We do this nearly every year, the six of us,
our embalming ceremony. 

Because it is January 22nd, and the Ottawa night is pregnant with despair,
shards of glass hit our faces, 
making mom’s numb to its wetness.
A gust of wind causes my jaw to dislocate for a brief moment until
dad smacks it back into place.

A few rows down is her
in the muck of 2007
formerly blonde hair grown back strawberry, curled.
It’s declined sleepovers because friends do not die at ten. 
It’s January 17th and the totality of the fifth grade and 
it's me living at twenty-four.
Back to you, almost brother
as we approach the dénouement of our embalming ceremony.
The oil keeps the soil within which you are enveloped, malleable. 
We refuse to let the ground around your shoebox casket freeze on January 22nd.

the sprigs get picked up by the wind 
get blown up my nose
thyme gets caught in my nasal cavity 
a perennial itch.

Making our way back to the car, I take a final glance at your tombstone, almost brother.
The engraving of your short biblical name, the singular date of your birth and death, shine forth.
As does the emptiness below your name
enough emptiness for two.

© Julia Aguiar