Mom is being buried today.
We will never see her face again except in photographs.
The coffin lid came down a week ago, forever,
or at least the seventy-five years it’s guaranteed.
Only seventy-five years, although it’s made of copper
the salesman said was indestructible.
We’ll all be long gone by then,
except for the grandchildren (maybe)
Something to be said for being buried
not too far from Disneyland.
Four months later, on Shelter Island,
a cloud is coming toward us,
swiftly falling, like the ghost
of a meteor about to self-destruct. I can’t
tear my eyes away, until it passes—
not falling after all, only moving on
to the next—house, table, life.
I want it open.
Do we all want it open?
We take our seats under a shelter,
in the heat, before the coffin.
No music. One peachy pink spray
of flowers at the head
from we don’t yet know whom.
My sister speaks. I read a eulogy.
My father whispers thanks. Even the men
are crying. The minister, older,
a widower himself, says his piece.
This national cemetery has its procedures
we are told we must follow:
while they put her in the ground.
They won’t let us stay there for that
because she’s one of a number
to be done today.
have asked, pressed, challenged,
or is it maybe just as well?
Can’t believe I’m writing this
in public at a table on a deck,
among new friends, only one of whom
knows what happened, more or less,
sheltered by hat and tear-concealing dark glasses.
Across the table a headline from the Money & Business section:
“Knowing when to say ‘sell.'”