“I heard a fly buzz — when I died” ~ Emily Dickinson
We are holding hands as we open
a memory of a golden day
when he ran to rescue a manatee.
Tall and vibrant, like a boy eager
to bring his strength. A lovely
day interrupted now
by this susurrous procession
of shuffling mourners.
They lean in and share a shaft
of grief, and your hold tightens.
Steady now. I am grounded
to the earth. Sitting beside this casket,
I’m spacious and here for you,
channeling all these piercing
emotions, so bright like tears
and sharp as knives
through your tired heart.
They keep coming with these strange
gifts, faces bending near
well-meaning, and you squeeze
when a sudden burst explodes
after a quiet word. And still
you continue to welcome their love.
I keep sending it all to the earth.
Later, standing in the back alone
while the preachers intone words and more
words, no songs today,
I watch people squirming.
Insects have gathered to pay
their respects, biting and teasing
unmercifully. Nipping flies and when
a huge june bug lumbers
up the suit jacket in front of me,
aimed for a glistening neck,
I touch the stranger beside me,
pointing. These aged condolers
stoic as they resist
the sun, the insistent bugs,
the stifling heat. Honking horns
and motorcycles leaking disco
call us to attention. In this vibrant
uncomfortable moment, we feel
our own life force burning
in love and sorrow, scratching
our wounded flesh, wiping away the sweat.