First, the cousin you grew up
Laughing with every Sunday
Will drop dead
Of a heart attack at 25
Two weeks
before you begin your first year teaching.  

When Dad tells you,
A heart attack at 25,
Squeeze in time for a shower
between lesson plans,
use the last of the stress-relief soap he,
a heart attack at 25,
bought you for Christmas,
and put the empty bottle back
to process later,

At the funeral,
Feel your pocket buzz:
the welcome-new-staff
back-to-school sale
mandatory new teacher meeting
don’t forget 9th grade orientation
emails dropping in your inbox like tears
you should be crying  

and even years later,
when you’re ready to try again,
still see on his headstone—
where his face should be– all those deadlines
you may never forgive.