What about the black dress,
surely stripped right from the angel of death?
their petals like melanomas
plucked from the skin of the corpse?
like a child crouched down,
abandoned in the graveyard
to the biting wind, the freeze?
Questions feel like the last gasp of civilization
as the box is lowered into the earth,
the priest intones even deeper than the hole is dug,
mourners go the teary route
while calling out God under their breath.
It’s a young boy’s first funeral
and everything he knows about familiar people
is disappearing before his eyes.
Does his mother really love that red-faced man?
He hasn’t looked that sour
since he placed those ill-conceived football bets.
unseen since a wedding in June?
And his uncle, the eldest of the brothers remaining,
surely next for the coffin and that unforgiving pit?
It’s his first exposure to something that isn’t entirely life.
He was told beforehand to stay perfectly still and not say a thing.
Everyone here seems under orders.
Obeying instructions is nothing new.
But to be in the company of obedience itself.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.