Memorial Service

He wasn’t very good at solemn services
He tended to drift off into his own thoughts
and forget when to stand
or bow his head
or sit down

He didn’t know how to say profound things
to grieving widows or lost children
to give comforting gestures
or maintain an appropriately doleful demeanor

Sissie died at ninety-nine
He knew he should be there
It was expected
and he had always liked her
They were related in some convoluted
x-times removed, in-lawish way
and he wanted to do the right thing
But he didn’t like funerals.

Years ago his brother had lost
a young, beautiful, vibrant grandson
The local rent-a-preacher
had regaled the audience
with admonitions on the wages of sin
of hellfire and brimstone
and eternal damnation

He was angry when he left
vowing never to go again
but as years came and went
as parents and friends and
age mates
began to pass more frequently
It became a matter of respect
to show up

Near the end of the interment service
on a sunny afternoon
on a grassy slope outside of town
he stood waiting for the interminably
droning prayer to finish
head bowed
thinking about the collision of nearby galaxies
he had read of the night before

A small, dust covered black beetle
worked its way through the tall blades of grass
up, onto and across the toe of his shoe
oblivious to the significance of the occasion.

He wondered for a moment
if the dust might be stardust
and smiled
then wondered if that was a bad thing.

Marv Himmel


Photo by Arno Jenkins

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