My grandfather dies at CJ’s Motel

Then in the motel room
they rented
by the month—with the kitchenette

& the microwave & the mini-refrigerator
& cable tv

When he sat upright & peered at the ceiling
each lung an ocean

eyes wide & hands tight on the arms
of the recliner

My father swears he saw the host of heaven
call him home

An ocean in my head
I wish
I were certain

*

Then in Texarkana
her heart heavy
as a rented room—with the kitchenette

& the microwave & the mini-refrigerator
& cable tv

When she sat & peered at her laptop screen
solicited prayers from an ocean

My father swears heaven is a host of people
family you want most

The fast-rising tide
I wish
for less blood in the water

*

My sister sits in the lecture hall
daydreams of
the trailer she bought—& end of the day

& her boyfriend & the kitchenette
& cable tv

Scrolls through the newsfeed
a rising tide

An ocean asks her to pray
for her dead

An ocean fills her head
she wishes
it had not soaked through

*

Then in the motel room
I have built
in my head—with the kitchenette

& the microwave & the mini-refrigerator
& cable tv

The channel is tuned to static & the volume
turned up

The bathtub is filling & the sinks
have overflown

My father swears that heaven is an ocean
& grandfather has a boat

Water surges into the room
I wish
I could swim

Tyler Atwood HeadshotTyler Atwood was marooned on this planet as an infant, and has been searching for home ever since. His first collection of poetry, an electric sheep jumps to greener pasture, is forthcoming from University of Hell Press, and his work has appeared in Perpetually Twelve, Danse Macabre, Housefire, and elsewhere. He lives and works in Denver, CO.