I felt that short sleeves were inappropriate
For a funeral, but my mother said
That I would swelter in my black dress shirt,
That the church had no air conditioning
And that no one would think twice.
On the ride down south we passed
The wind farms and the long black train
And Del Grosso's Amusement Park.
The altar was arrayed with a huge bouquet
And the portrait of my uncle
Was at least twenty years old.
We took our place in line
To pay our respects at the casket
And embrace his grieving widow.
We lingered and proceeded at the pace
That propriety allowed.
There was a reception in the basement
With its kitchen and long tables.
I loaded up a styrofoam tray
With gherkins, beets, and cauliflower
Drizzled with avocado sauce
And pecan pie and coffee on the side.
My cousin had just flown in from Prestwick
And he was dressed in the full regalia
Of the United States Air Force.
The windows of the basement
Looked out upon the cemetery.
The moss and lichens blotched the ancient names
And polished granite mirrored the clouded sky,
And over the stillness of the stones
The wind stirred in the cedar rows.
We stayed the night at my uncle's home.
His mother's mimosa crowned the garden
And spiders weaved in the morning sun.
I woke up before the rest and read
From a well concealed book of Hume.
As the night fell on the marshes
My uncle took us to a place called Gordon's,
An ice cream parlor with a checkered floor
And an Evel Knievel pinball machine
By the markerboard menus.
We enjoyed ourselves as propriety allowed
With waffle cone towers of mint chocolate chip,
And when we stepped outside
The night was filled with the songs of frogs.