Walk away from the parlor,
step outside to smoke.
The crowd already cast its magic,
summoned my fear of family reunions
when I sat alone in shade of a tree,
waiting for it all to end.
Beyond blood & death, I have nothing
in common with anyone
except the lone known felon &
another whose tattoos suggest
she’s seen the other side.
The minister stares at me, smile crooked
as if the sun has warped his lips.
I want to talk to him
about the value of silence.
He won’t hear me over chattering grief
of the crowd. I’m by myself
as if the body on display.
SHE HIDES IN HER ROOM
No one must see her sobbing:
loud howl swirls through the house,
volume knob turned high on grief.
Her tears could be a squad car
tearing past on the street below
or spectral laughter in the mist.
She clings to the illusion of uncertainty
as though as long as no one witnesses
the weakness might be otherwise
than hers—no deaths occurred,
or a stranger’s loved ones
exited at the last stop in a foreign city.
She prefers safety of a closed door.
What she shares with the rest of us
isn’t true, although we nod,
happy (happy?) to accept the lie as good.