Mark how the living, the loving ones gather
like clouds to bury grief in their hands, bowing
their heads in unison to console the weather.
Having waded through the waist-high grass,

they plant beside a clapboard church a coffin
in the earth from which they pray another
whitewashed cross may grow. The saving grace
they sing of never ceases to amaze them.

Sweet cornrows lend their ears. A child grips the hem
of her mother’s dress, a fragrant lupine
tucked behind the plaits of her flaxen hair.

The paddock at the end of grief is farther
than she can travel in a lifetime,
                                even as the crow flies, plowing
furrows in a sky, however new, beyond repair.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 36 Number 9, on page 27
Copyright © 2018 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
newcriterion.com/issues/2018/5/a-country-funeral-9765