Liz Quirke

Two Poems

At The Funeral Home

Cut to an ebony dais; the five of us blocked as points on a compass
in our new accidental ordinance of importance.

Beside the undertaker [with folder, pen, pressed shirt, comfortable noose/
matching tie, the very fine cut of gentleman] we rank as follows:

Sister1-Mother-Me-Brother-Sister2- until back to the undertaker once more.
I will certainly eyeball this rotation time and again and again and time

throughout this awful fact-establishing coffin-selecting inquisition.
We inhabit the clothes we wore when without warning nine hours ago

my father took it upon himself to die.

I’m listen-watching this conversation do the rounds while tracing pink flowers
at the end of my sleeve, my index finger demanding the threads to lead me back

towards the lines on his hands before they lost their heat.

There’s a door, another door beyond that to the outside –
we are trapped in neither here nor there where he is dead but not nearly buried

and we will have to answer questions correctly
to move to the next round, through a third and final door we have yet to notice.

Bonus points for remembering when my parents’ young son was exhumed
and resituated, a conversation that almost plunders my mother of her last reserves,

she curls close to the polished table, a loose claim on my hand,
as her elder children outdo each other with feats of memory

and the room is a hurricane with the eye on the move,
was it ninety five or six, such overladen minutiae,

must the street we grew up on have a possessive case applied
when black and whited into Or Eye Pee Dot Eye Eee,

and other cash-up-front social oracles announcing arrangements
we’d give anything to not attend,

seven local radio plays to get the word out,
a whirl in the parish notes for the masses,

until we are silenced,
assured that there won’t be a sinner in the town

unaware of what this day has taken.


Comments are closed.