Family, Grief, and Hydraulics

Washington Memorial Gardens, February 5th 2020

The sky carried the weight of so much gray on its shoulders
winter was bracing for another hearty exhale
the pale grass, low on the ground, did all it could
to keep from shivering. The carpet
they reverently rolled out over the adjacent graves
mimicked the lush green of mid-spring
albeit a little frayed,
a little worse for wear on the edges.
That itself was a poem: death is an anachronism,
out of place, out of time. It tries to belong,
but ends up disturbing the color of everything.
But for a short time we are all standing huddled
on a patch of a simulation of a kinder season,
the right angles hugging the six-foot
deep cavity on the earth just so.

The funeral people have done this hundreds of times before;
they already know how its goes. Already mastered the art
of walking around in somber whispers around broken hearts,
around lives so freshly uprooted and gasping
with questions of how to go on. We entrust to them
the bulky cumbersome heirloom of our grief.
The men who marched the white and pink
box bearing the last of her: one son,
one son-in-law, four grandsons,
almost stumbled on the slope.
There was dignity even in that.
That itself was a poem: between the wood
and the wispy flesh on her frail, all-important bones
there’s enough responsibility to pull you down,
down on your knees, down to the need for rest,
the responsibility of being left behind.

It took only the push of a button concealed on the metal
to finish the job, lowering all that we had come here for
into its final resting place. Dust to dust.
Faultless hydraulics, eight-inch wide straps
of enough tensile strength to lend
grace to the blow of a final goodbye.
Flowers descend like rainfall.
More tears.

* * *
Rest in peace, Dorothy Lee Beauford.

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