Farm Funeral

It is a great comfort
To pray to a Lord
Who can fill our every need

We gathered for our neighbor’s November
Funeral. She died at ninety-five years,
Falling at her son’s house, her
Hip breaking, sending her to the hospital
And complications and this:
Laid out in the farm house less than
Two miles from her birthplace.

All those years of driving horses into town
Of cooking for threshers each fall,
Of watching winter snows close the roads
For weeks at a time,
Those years show even as she lies silent,
Frail as kindling wood in the front parlor,
Surrounded by flowers too perfect for this house.

We are more together than at a loss.
Food piles up in the kitchen,
Granddaughters file in and out
Of the parlor, bored with latecomers’
Sympathies. The men
Sit in the kitchen and talk of picking
Corn and the young boy who lost his hand
In a husking bed two weeks ago.

The clock on the mantel chimes twice,
Starting a silence. The minister
Prays, we all pray.
The Twenty-Third Psalm is read
As the minister quiets the last
Of the sobbing with words of another
World. A sermon is read,
Heads drop into another prayer,
And it is over.

We are not alone under the grey sky,
The living turn to the living,
The sense of family, of the land
Suddenly seem very old. We are one.

:: William O. Boggs, Swimming in Clear Water (1989)

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