2 June 2005
Saint Louis. Harsh sunrays glisten on the gold
handrail of the casket. Gripping the metal,
struggling up the stone stairs of Scruggs CME,
eyes peering into the void, crossing the threshold,
we pause, take our breath, then move forward.
We follow the path of the minister's gaze
to the resting place at the front of the pews.
The coffin slides onto the rails, locks in place,
inanimate but with proper attitude,
reverent, solemn, embued with piety.
I don't remember the sequence of events.
I was seated next to my sister,
then we were standing together at the podium.
I remember generic faces staring.
I remember the words being read,
my sister's voice straining, cracking, but unstopped.
I don't remember the exact words,
except the memory of Kerwin's tumbling
down the stairs at eight years old.
He'd needed stitches then.
Life was so much easier at eight years old.
I vaguely remember seeing children fidget,
trapped on the hard benches next to adults,
wondering when this would all end and they could run
and play and be free of this confinement.
Kerwin was always struggling to break free
The preacher said, he's gone to a better place.
I remember watching the choir singing,
although I do not remember the song.
I do remember Kerwin singing,
in a mellow voice, an Isley brothers song.
Perhaps I was simply day dreaming.
I'd heard someone say,
"This was their second funeral today."
Were they tired? Did they know my brother?
What were they thinking, through the lamentations?
Were they empathetic?
And, if so, how could they bear it?
I held my sister's hand.
Someone patted me on the back
to comfort me. Dreadlocks. He had dreadlocks
when he died. I remember the thought,
fleeting but vivid as the sight
of the casket or the crosses behind the choir.
© 2005, Satya J. Gabriel