Offerings

My son’s hands hid his face,
and his narrow shoulders shook
with sobbing. He had no metaphysics

yet, so the pastor’s voice bleated
senselessly over the grave
of his grandmother, and suddenly

I understood those cultures
that provision their dead, that heap
funeral altars with candy, baked goods,

favorite magazines, and trinkets
they once loved. Each time
my son would visit her,

she’d give him a box of cookies
he rarely ate, but knew the value of,
and always, before he left,

a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
and a jar of apple juice
with the lid screwed tight

so none of it would spill, just in case
he got hungry or thirsty on the long ride home.