Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Day We Put My Mother in the Ground

The sun forgot to rise
on the day we put my mother in the ground.
There was a gray ocean above us,
and in the distance thunder pounded
like the surf was crashing
against some far away celestial beach head.
Rain had cleansed the air; it smelled so sweet.
It held the scent of fresh dirt.
Nothing is cleaner than dirt.
My wool suit had a scent of its own too
that cool, clammy morning.
Damp wool, all clingy and scratchy,
the sheep’s revenge I suppose.

By the time we got to church the storm had come close,
and the peals of thunder made it seem as if God himself
was mourning for my mother.
The electric lights dimmed a few times,
but the wax candles continued to flicker, held their vigil.
No slackers those votive lights.
And people took turns speaking about my mother,
but I can’t remember what they said.
What I remember is numbness,
and the worst kind of headache.
The kind that makes even your hair hurt.

When they carried the casket out of the church
raindrops started to fall onto it, angels tears for sure.
But tears of joy, not sorrow. For our loss on this side
was their gain on the other.
And at the graveyard we laid my mother in the ground.
A good resting place for a pure woman.
Nothing is cleaner than dirt.

(appears in Passing, published by Poetworks Press)

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