The smell of spring through open windows,
lilac, lily of the valley, fresh-cut lawns—
especially at sunset, if it’s warm, with a light wind;
especially on Friday, tired from a work-hard week—
it loosens clothing, talk and inhibition,
maybe with a clink of drink-to-drink.
But nothing lasts, especially to think of
beautiful deliverance from the past week, month
or year. Soon Saturday is here, with tasks
or obligations saved-up for the day,
for catching-up with housework or with friends.
Time spends itself so suddenly away
toward Sunday, when the rituals set in,
and panic petrifies the fun, the very thought of
the next unavoidable, ascending sun.
One after another, those of the condolence queue,
wearing whatever passes now for sunday clothes,
snake across the chapel carpet to review
the body. Say how sorry. Look morose.
Those of the right religion stop and kneel.
Some even reach to touch the corpse, who dare
to know how a dead hand might feel,
then cross themselves and murmur a small prayer.
A parish priest arrives to lead the rosary;
the lapsed, the unbelievers, sneak out for a smoke.
Who sent which flowers? We must nose and see.
A distant relative retells his funeral joke.
At ten the undertaker flashes lights.
Everyone leaves. Nobody says goodnight.