July 4, 2006


the men from the funeral home could use a smoke

as they pace discreetly in fading light,

forty miles from supper, minister long gone,

they still have a job to do,

her companions are in the way

yet all resist, cousins cluster, hold nieces’ tiny hands,

jounce babies, stroll among the neighbor graves,

read familiar names, she’ll be alone once we depart


one great-nephew knows there’s still a little time

to collect specimen spears of drying summer grass,

he hands them round, miming what he saw,

the gentle gesture of roses dropped on her casket


at last, someone herds us closer to our cars,

the funeral men press a button, sink her out of sight,

escape in their silent-motored hearse,

we watch the dust for miles


a puttering tractor sound from the other direction,

the road that leads to Borden Ferry, man on a bobcat

bumps along, come to do her final tucking in,

ground so dry it won’t be easy


he didn’t expect a crowd, parks across the way,

tinkers awhile with switches, as if he’d come

on other business, as if he wasn’t the ferryman,

wearing a thin disguise