Through the big church windows we watched a black dog on a long chain chasing its tail. The priest elevated the thinnest cummunion wafers I had ever seen, as thin as parchment. The faithful lined up to drink wine from the same cup, a white cloth circling the rim after each sip.

On the drive out to the graveyard, the guy I rode with told me how he went to jail once for stealing apples from the state prison, & was discharged a few days early for refusing to eat.

At the graveside ceremony, the deacon splashed holy water on the wrong marker at first. The widow read the inscription & was astonished to discover the name of her best friend.

We gathered afterwards at the home of the deceased, where the church provided food & the family provided alcohol. Most of the rest of us only brought bons mots and funny stories, but a fiddler & a jazz singer brought their songs, which they performed separately: instrument without voice, voice without instrument, & both without the man for whom they performed.

4 Replies to “Funeral”

  1. I love #1: the associations, the color contrasts. I’m amazed how much you got in #2. “Elevated” and “discharged” are great.

  2. The black dog circling is like the white cloth circling.

    Our minds circle around death, but there’s no give: funerals always feel like someone’s reversed the rules. There’s a great big nothing in the middle of the circle.

    (Which doesn’t stop us from circling anyway).

    Good “breathe-in breathe-out” piece Dave

    1. Thanks, lucas. This piece practially wrote itself: the dog chasing its tail and the people drinking from the same cup were the things that most impressed me from the mass, and so on with the rest of it. It’s gratifying sometimes to discover that the ordinary mind, the one that takes note of the most obvious things, is also capable of a kind of poetry.

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