One Hundred Funerals
Iíve seen a hundred funerals.
Black hems at knee length,
five-year-old eye level,
Ankle, mid-calf, over the years
Lower than my interest in hemlines.
My grandfather in a gray suit.
My father in tears on a knee
Explaining to me about missing.
Iíve held Kleenex in my pocket
At so many funerals
Picking them to tatters with nail-bitten fingers.
Mommy walking tiptoe
In heels sinking in the grass.
Cemetery dew and mud and frost.
Sun, and the outside tissue
Stained with Mommyís somber blot kiss.
I have seen the shaking backs of family
And have shaken the vacant hands of
Graveside widows and brothers and strangers
Thank you for coming
How good of you to come.
I have sat behind crying hats
And have cried, shaking,
One row ahead of other child-poets.
At three I was carried
Down my fatherís wooden steps
Over the wool-coat shoulder
Of my dutiful mother
I remember how it felt to be carried.
I remember so many funerals, all one
As I smooth hair in the mirror,
Check my watch for time, and
Blot a kiss on a tissue square.
Black dress, Kleenex in the pocket.
(photo by Kyle Tschepikow)