Elegy to a Grandson

My grandson, Joshua Bathe, passed away last April after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer five months earlier. The following is my poetic tribute to him.


          Elegy to a Grandson

          Grief undulates
          like an inchworm
          and just as slowly.
          It forces one to use
          the conditional tense:
          He would have been . . .
          if he hadn’t . . .
          Or tugging the knot
          of time:
          He would have been . . .
          if he had . . .
          Died or lived.
          Flip a coin.
          Settle the issue
          once and for all.
          Wear the result
          like a raincoat,
          too snug,
          constricting the shoulders,
          like a strait-jacket,
          strangling the odd breath.
          His was a false start.
          Slotted into the space-time continuum
          too soon,
          he left the same way.
          What to make of
          the in-between?
          The eyelid’s blink
          before the leopard
          pounces on its shadow
          in a wading pool?
          He sang the lyrics
          not knowing how the tune
          would end:
          “. . . remind me
          of a warm safe
          where as a child
          I’d hide
          and pray for the thunder
          and the rain
          to quietly
          pass me by.”
          In the event of (you know),
          do not resuscitate:
          instructions of
          a young man
          encrypted in genetic code
          as a roll of the dice.
          Then snake eyes.
          If only a woman
          would marry him
          for a few minutes.
          Fists thunder
          toward Heaven’s throne
          where sits gloating
          the craftiest trickster
          of them all.
          And we are left to
          muse at the not-ness
          and never-will-be
          of our own exquisite
          to avoid using
          the past tense.
**Featured Image Source: pxhere/ unknown photographer/ CCO


  1. Beautiful! Happy birthday Josh. You captured the truth in this heart wrenching poem on grief.

  2. Beautiful. Thank you, Ed. Grief is not a stream I want to go fishing in. But here we are…. Happy Birthday, my Josher. Your Lin-Lin loves you.

  3. So beautiful and capturing all of our thoughts as only you could Ed. Thank you for sharing! ❤️

  4. I keep returning to this haunting poem.

  5. I wanted to comment…but I could not find the right words. You did. I guess that’s what poets can do. Thank you.

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