Acknowledge the smashed potsherds,
but waste no time scavenging them
from barren ground—some missing,
assemblage impossible. Fall foliage
and windswept dust will cover them.
Turn it all over to the archaeologists.
Springtime is for washing windows,
except broken frames, absent panes
nobody opened before they leaped.
Embarrassing document? Rip it up
into confetti, till no sentence stands
complete, no subject connected to
an object. Tear names from dates.
Dispose in separate bags of trash,
then take each to a different dump.
To stuff a makeshift cushion, fill
any shirt or nightgown left behind
with birthday cards, photographs.
Put this beneath the corpse’s head
at the wake, to look more natural.
Pray, Rest in pieces, pending burial.
Weight of Tradition
We remembered the Sabbath, kept
it holy, at ten o’clock ante meridiem
in the Bethel Congregational Church:
Father and I—twelve years his son.
Fear of God came over me, as again
Father had to dignify a pew up front,
for reasons only to himself evident,
and despite my pimpled diffidence.
I knew, as sure as the resurrection
of the godly, that once Rev. Milnes
began to preach, Father would start
listing to starboard, paternal freight
laid on me in plain sight of Milnes
and worshipers behind. His snores
cut deeper than Saint Paul’s thorn
in the flesh—I was scarred for life.
His weight felt like the laying-on
of hands upon his Prodigal Son,
by later clergymen. Rev. Milnes
died in this pulpit. Here I stand.
© Russell Rowland
Seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee Russell Rowland has two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press. A full-length collection, “Were All Home Now,” is available from Beech River Books. He writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region