Divine Popcorn (poem version)

Updated: Mar 19

for nine months

my grandfather had been diagnosed with

stage 4

terminal

brain cancer

and for nine months

my mom had been expecting

my baby sister.


life and death waved

at each other

from across the street

during those two weeks in may.


i imagine them there

crossing sidewalks

exchanging their universes


i wonder if they made eye contact if he reached his hand out

and they met

in this brief moment

of neither time nor space

but something in between


my grandfather,

as my mom always says, was larger than life

“if you’re not living on the edge,“

he used to say,

“you’re taking up too much space.”


at his funeral

he arrived on a projection screen

in a white suit, standing amongst the clouds,

proclaiming he missed us all from heaven.


managing the feat of being at his own funeral.


i remember papa vividly,

but like old film

memories become grainy

still, the outlines are all there


monthly, he would take to the movies and we’d share a popcorn.

giggling as our hands touched

then the toy store,

ice cream then dinner,

preferably in that order


yearly vacations with crashing waves,

the sand shifting beneath our toes,


him holding up a bagel, lox, and cream cheese, exclaiming,

“this is heaven!”

papa, was it true? is that what heaven’s like?


being five years old, when papa was diagnosed with brain cancer

and being disappointed

that day

because our plans to go to the circus were canceled.

i remember his last day,

sun streaming through the skylight onto his bed,

my head resting on the sheets, his breath causing them to rise

up and down, up and down

we both faced the ocean

the blue: the brightest i had ever seen it


papa?


did you know that sometimes in synagogue, i pray to you?


i’m sorry i didn’t cry at your funeral.

i tried, but i couldn’t understand what death meant yet.

i didn’t understand that it meant no more

monthly movies

or family vacations

or your hugs

i didn’t know it meant you wouldn’t see me grow up

mark milestones with ice cream

now, preferably dairy free

graduate from the toy store to bookstores

from picture books to politics

teach me how to tell the stories you were always so good at telling


i didn’t know that between me and you

i will forever be 6

and you will forever be 71.


i miss you


i don’t know what happens when we die.

but one day


one day, i know

i’ll meet him in the movie theater in the sky

and we’ll giggle when our hands touch

as we share some divine popcorn.


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