The Funeral

A little girl of only eight,
whose body shook, as lower lip began
to tremble, her effort not to cry was great;
now slowly kneeling, too grief-stricken to stand,

beside the open grave, her tears freely flow.
“My mother is glad that Mike is dead, isn’t she?
She never liked him. She always told me so.
Too busy to come help bury him! How can that be?”

The July sun has turned the afternoon sultry,
but under their maple tree, whose leaves like little
umbrellas offer them mottled shade, her father and she
complete the burial, her eyes so wet, her heart so brittle.

“Why did Mike have to die? I loved him so much!”
“Sweetheart, that’s the way of life. Everything alive will die.
Deaths can break your heart”, hugging with a fatherly touch,
“but it’s okay to grieve. Your heart can heal when you cry.”

Inside, she sits and cries, avoiding looking at her mother.
The man whispers, “Her grief is genuine. Go comfort her.”
His wife replies, “Such fuss over a hamster! Just buy another.”
Some years later, this girl will sob uncontrollably at her father’s
funeral, but not shed a tear at the funeral of her mother...

Harry Edward Gilleland      07.26.02