Theme X: Family, “Memorial Day, 2015”

By Tia Ramos

“Welcome to the West” my aunt said when I came home from college
as we were standing in a cemetery in Industrial Denver.

black clouds were seeping into the blue sky, pulled by cowboys on horses I’m told

This is the hope?
Three Japanese sisters looking down at the gravestone of their grandparents
Grandma came to the US and died of pneumonia leaving grandpa with 8 little ones, loneliness, and alcoholism.

In the oldest cemetery of Denver, sometimes you can’t leave because the only entrance is blocked by a railroad track and you have a view of tall skinny factories that look like remnants of a plastic polly pocket mold and the cemetery now doesn’t have any money and you wonder when some contractors will come down and plow over it to build some new hip condominium with awkward windows and some other cemetery will now be the oldest (on condition) and my great-grandparents will now really die with hundreds of other great-grandparents who have probably already died based on the weeds and dried flowers around the grave.

So this is the West they all boasted about. An old white guy on a tractor with a large teepee like the Native Americans on his property. A storm coming in from the north with hail that dents cars and rain that creates deep puddles in the oldest cemetery in Denver. Three Japanese-American sisters who only pull out their culture and incense on days when they should, only remember on days that they should. A juiced-out lighter and incense that won’t burn.

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