Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12: My Brother's Funeral, New Poem, "Nest"

I just returned from the reception following my brother's funeral.  It is almost 10 p.m., and I am very tired.

The funeral was difficult.  Lots of tears.  I'm not good at small talk with strangers or near strangers, so I spent most of the evening trying to avoid awkward conversations with people.  Some of my best friends came, and it was wonderful to see them and accept their comfort.

The hardest part of the whole occasion was listening to my octogenarian father sobbing beside me.  I nearly passed out trying to hold back my own tears.  And I also had to read a poem for my brother.  I spent almost four days writing it.  I didn't complete a final draft until about an hour before I had to be at the funeral parlor.

This is the poem Saint Marty read tonight:


for Kevin, May 12, 2014

My daughter saw it first,
tucked under the garage eave
like an abandoned hat or trapped
tumbleweed, a jumbled braid
of grass, twig, leaf,
detritus of last autumn's letting go,
sculpted with beak, claw
into a soup bowl, deep with down and dung.
I stepped closer, inspected it, wondered
what else made up the sinew
and rib of its creation.  Maybe
a Tootsie Roll wrapper from July 4,
brown, white, sweet-smelling.
A blade of blue or silver Christmas
garland, flashing in the sun
like Tiffany glass.  Mud made
by my son in August
when he drowned the pumpkins in the garden.
Ribbon frayed from my daughter's
ballet shoe, pink and slick
as a hummingbird tongue.
All the lost and forgotten
twisted into the DNA of spring,
something new, green.
On this evening of letting go,
I feel like a robin, gathering
shards of you from my backyard.
The root of your voice.  Hay
of your hair.  Thistle of the last
joke you told, the one
about the spark plug and bartender.
I try to stitch these elements together,
bring breath back to your lungs
one final moment so I can
hold your hand maybe,
feed you one more fork
of pumpkin pie.
Tonight, when I sleep,
I will see you hatch, break
open, shake off your lake-
blue shell.  You crawl to the lip
of the nest, spread your wings,
then launch yourself
into the bright palm of heaven.

Monday, September 12, 1954 - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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