The wedding night is beautiful

and tense, as if inside a catered bathysphere:

a fine buffet and open bar,


the father’s absence pressing like an ocean

that will crush us if we say his name.

Only once, when bride and step-dad hug


like diplomats to start the father/daughter dance,

the mother of the bride unseals her face

and we’re allowed to quickly miss him


as she did, around the fist-shaped holes and

after-midnight wrecks, between our neighbors’

jimmied windows and their unlocked


meds. The tiny breach makes smokers need

the parking lot. Out there, all drunk and full

of cake, Aunt Pat’s propped up against


the bumper of her car. She grabs at sleeves,

shout-whispers Look who’s here! Pops the trunk

and wags her finger at a little cardboard box


labeled “Remains.” Almost eleven months,

she croons. Well, someone had to pick you up.

She flails backward, gasping. Drowning. Tries


to look us in the eye. But after everything,

she vows, I’d never have him in my home.

What are you looking for?