on family trips
papa used to tell the same joke
every time we passed a graveyard

“did you know,” he’d ask,
“that no one living in this town can be buried here?”

“no, why?” we’d reply

“because you have to be dead first!”

and we’d all groan
over that hoary, lame joke

now every time i pass a graveyard
i recite it to myself

because it means that
for a very brief moment

he is not dead
he is still with me
and i can pretend
the last decade of grief
does not exist