Monday, May 30, 2011

Funeral Exhibit ~Memorial Day Repost

I wrote this last year for Veterans Day; reposting it today, for Memorial Day as I'm sure this same scene is still going on all over this country, and in one way or another, in many others.

Funeral Exhibit

Stopped bored at the tracks I look
over the fence into the cemetery
at the funeral.

Heads bared to the lucid November sun
on display to all who pass outside,
the mourners shift uncomfortably
around the sad slump of green
cloth that is the
next to last
shelter of the passed.

A young black sailor stands frowning
in uniform on the outskirts of the grey white family,
stark as a banner of war in a country of peace.
His white cap floating above the composition
like an artist’s touch of cloud on sky
placed by design to draw the eye
away from the politely concealed
hole in the earth.

It seems obscene for me
to watch from my car
the flag folding,
the mortality party
to which I’m uninvited
but no one seems to care that
a few feet away the world
drives on.

In the rearview mirror
I see the sailor extinguish his cap
in a sudden grasp,
bow his head.
then they’re gone.

If only it was really
that easy to pass on.

November 2010
Veteran's Day

Photo credit: Veteran dedication marker, Elmwood Cemetery, Barre, Vermont ©2008 Kimberly Powell


  1. You caught the essence of a funeral brilliantly...time is suspended for those who gather to mourn.

  2. Yesterday I watched a ceremony just like the one you described. A co worker who was a veteran had died and they did the whole thing...taps, the flag folded and handed to his widow. We were all wiping our eyes.

  3. Thanks all. It was strange to watch from my car--somehow it was more intense, not less.

  4. You have drawn a heartfelt image. Thank you for the post.

  5. never easy...
    thanks for the reverent view for the fallen.
    I was talking to a friend about how often we were deployed we were only sent off by a few and only greeted back by a few and yet that life given for so many...

  6. Too easy for us to pass on, spared so much consequence of war unless we're within the small subculture of military families, soldiers who went into battle for lack of a better job. The incongruity of devastation amid rural peace is like looking at a Civil War battlefield -- thousands of dead hidden by rolling green pasture. Not so easy for the heart's eye to pass on, having seen the insides of the event; the poet's eye cannot help but linger on everything that can't add up .... Layer over that scene like a template of the times the members of the Westboro Baptist Church who make a habit of protesting outside private military funerals with signs that shout "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "God Hates Fags." - Brendan

  7. Beautiful tribute. I, too, was thinking about how awful it must be for those families to have to see the disgusting displays of Westboro Baptist Church at these funerals. One of the few times I was proud of the behavior of my Southern MD neighbors was when we had a military funeral near here and Westboro Baptist came. Hundreds of people lined the streets into the town so that they couldn't get close enough to the funeral to disrupt it.

  8. @mdw I had not realized that you had served. Thank you for that, and for your kind comments.

    @lolamouse & Brendan: The existence of people like the Westboro Bigots are one of the very few things that make me wish I wasn't an atheist, so that I could believe in Hell.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats