On The Day Of The Dead by John Grey

It’s August 31st, the day of the dead.
Wilma’s lying in her coffin,
hands flat under breasts
and wrapped in rosary beads.
Husband Amos hangs about near dark, deep curtains.
With any luck, they’ll swallow him.
Divorced daughter pales her face appropriately.
Her happily married sibling stands like Horatio
to keep her many children from storming the body.
And then there’s the son – pillar of society,
at least until the investigation is concluded.
Various cousins weep and whisper.
Her few surviving friends
painfully kneel before the box.
It will be their turn soon.
Death emerges from their tears,
orders each and every one to take a number.
The funeral director pops in
to see how this death is doing.
He has three on the go this afternoon.
One’s a comedy, one a drama,
the third pure soap opera –
but he knows how they all end.
The priest arrives.
For the five minutes of his ad-libbed sermon,
Wilma was a good Christian woman
and is already by His side.
One kid, thirteen years old maybe,
Wilma’s grand-nephew,
is experiencing his first wake
and is bewildered by it all –
a painted corpse, a flock of baying relatives,
most of whom he’s never seen before,
a priest saying wonderful things about a woman
who wouldn’t allow anyone under the age of twenty one
into her precious parlor.
The kid is me.
It’s good, though puzzling, to be alive.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Ellipsis. Latest books, Covert, Memory Outside The Head and Guest of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Washington Square Review and Red Weather.