I sit on the frozen metal chairs, serving to brace my back,
but not my feelings.
Whipping sounds of the cold wind
carries the wet tapping’s on the tent.
Smells of spring are muted by the unearthed hole
covered now with artificial turf
and mounded piles around the edges.
The box, the gray silver box
suspended over the receptor dug for it.
‘Stars and Stripes’ reminiscent of wars
fought in the past, and forgotten not.
Forgotten days of heroic acts
of wars not forgotten and now
remembered; this daughter remembering not.
Six foot and oh so many tall inches
my brother, sitting close by; silent.
He looked past me sometimes and sometimes noticed
with a reassuring nod he was there.
Not saying too much as people approached him,
this the only son and namesake of the departed.
Deep into his blue eyes and the stark black hair
quickly graying prematurely, I saw volumes not being said.
A southern preacher, friend of the family,
began the eulogy saying blessings over and over.
Dried eyes of the few remaining in black, some standing
some sitting, the wet canvas swayed in the storm.
We all listened, thinking silent thoughts not to be repeated.
Histories of misunderstanding hung in the damp
heavy air, brought by the remnants of winter’s farewell.
The flag now folded is awarded to the oldest
daughter with honors, she trembling in response; cried.
The ” Our Father”, started with the eventual joining of all,
while my earthly Father lay there,
deep within a coffin of ‘no memories.’
I heard this echo, this voice hardly recognizable over the phone,
one of the few times we spoke, “I love you”, he said.
Remembering his words was my eulogy to him
in my unspeakable thoughts.
The blessing, a song, the familiar “Amazing Grace”
a final prayer being said, I never heard.
People stood to speak to the other, and others couldn’t get
through crowded yesterdays; keeping them still.
Stronger spirits pilgrimage with hellos, and talk of the weather,
and “my how you have grown” and “time sure passes.”
Glancing I turn to see the workmen began to drop the coffin
of a man I never knew, they say, “He was my Father.”© CMM 1994