By T. A. Fry
What purpose fastidious praise? I will not drink with the Puritans,
whose thin words wilt from prinked lips. The well intentioned herd
who mouth in sanitized churches and mortuaries; “I’m sorry for your loss.”
I’ll belch and stink my grief while screaming celestial praises
with only gratitude for her life. Look beyond the breasts of the skin
that we are borrowing to find her braided love cross death’s divide.
She did not pawn her time on earth! She owned the sacrifice
of the Tortoise tending its leafy gardens, the devotion
of the Sequoia sipping the clouds communion chalice.
Let me smell the rot of her death. Do not perfume and primp this carcass
with altruistic incense which scrubs dead air and gives no satisfaction.
True celebrants orient to suit their phrase through cajoles fraught with
Heaven’s dare and inhale the halitosis of her death’s joyful laugh.
Convene your priestly council if you must for the sake of propriety.
But offer me the seared flesh of the sweated beast who dances her jubilas. Bring me a goblet of its blood wine for her toasts.
I’ll stand with the pure diviners of harmony and sing.
Mourner’s who arise with passion fire to fuel her cremation.
Are we sick to produce so hot a flame? No…. It’s just our love of her.
Her trunk was empty, unpacked, devoured of its essence
by the completeness of her life. In our love inferno
her rind burned quickly, with little sputtering.
Today is the third anniversary of my Mother’s death. She was 83 when she passed. She experienced the kind of gentle and sudden death that I think we all dream of having. She and I had gone to church in the morning, she came home and gardened in the afternoon. My sister was visiting from California and had brought a life-long friend that lives in my Mom’s neighborhood and the three of them were visiting before going out for a bite to eat. They were getting ready to go and my Mom said, “wait, I have one more thing to tell you.” and then she started the next sentence, slurred a couple of words, slowly slid off her chair to the floor and died.
Grieving the death of the those closest to us is an ongoing and unfinished process. It washes over in phases. I woke up and wrote this poem five days after she died, on the day she was cremated. I have written other poems in that style, but none since her death. This poem expresses an unexpected anger, sadness as well as joy, that arose from the repetition in the days following, having called all the family and her friends, and hearing over and over, “I’m sorry for your loss.” At the time all I felt was gratitude for having been so fortunate to have been her son. I still feel the same.
Thank you Mom for living an amazing life. We miss you.