I remember him drinking from our garden hose
because my dad said never to do that
so when he got throat cancer
I assumed that was the cause of it.
Looking back, it is much more likely unfiltered
Pall Malls and Jameson neat had caused
the doctors to take out his
larynx so that he burped out his words when he talked.
His last Christmas, he sat there with a handkerchief
covering the hole in his throat as my
mother passed him groceries
from a brown paper bag, each wrapped like a present:
a can of waxed beans,
He pretended to pull the top joint from his thumb
while I drank cambric tea listening to
my mother’s stories from her
childhood and he laughed without making a sound.