Sunday, January 15, 2006

Death in a Minor Mode

Seeing his name embossed in gold,
I'd press a bell at the slight hall
and ask for him. Instead, the lift
ushers the fearful and the bold
and those untouched by death at all
to the third floor where mourners drift

across the Ruby and the Jade
to the Pearl Room, at Singapore
Casket. He lies in simple state.
Around him flutter living shades,
three closest: the old scolding bore,
the daughter loved, the son, his hate.

The sisters blame the beer the most.
The brothers noisily contest
and count, below their breath, their days
to bet them on an empty boast.
Indulgently, their wives protest:
not one of them will change his ways.

The black hearse leaves the iron gate
with less than Sunday racing haste
he used to study as a pundit.
No one bets on his eventual fate
but those who do not wish to waste
plate numbers’ luck in lottery fund it.

We sing to fill our lungs with love,
hymns to the God he didn’t embrace,
recite the prayers for our sake:
Enter the pearly gate above,
relax in silken sheets with Grace,
and drain the jug of crystal lake.

No comments: