Sinking In                                                         

            Funerals meant dressing up
            And spending hours watching grown-ups cry
            Some of them, at least,
            Not all –
            There were plenty standing around and
            Even cracking jokes with people
            That they hadn’t seen for ages
            I couldn’t cry much
            For my grandmother, though I tried,
            Not because I didn’t love her –
            Which I knew I did –
            But seeing her so small and waxen
            In the casket took away the memories
            Instead I counted up the wrinkles
            On her powdered cheeks and wondered
            Would her chalky fingers snap
            If someone tugged the rosary
            Just as I was ready to undo
            The topmost button of the starched white shirt
            That made me twist and push my neck out
            Like a restless turtle
            She reached and gave my tie a yank,
            Tightened the knot and nearly strangled me
            And it was time to move away
            And sit and help my mother greet
            Another stream of relatives and friends
            Paying respects
            The biggest hugs and kisses came from folks I’d never met
            And left a scent of mothballs in their wake
            That made me cough
            Finally the tears had mostly stopped
            And everyone grew still
            Just like at church, and I almost
            Burst out laughing when I heard a fart
            But kept my head down and my eyes
            Glued to my shoes until it passed
            I thought it was an act of mercy
            When they closed the casket’s lid
            But mom leapt up and shuddered
            And sat down again like an exhausted wave
            And brushed my hand away and sobbed
            It made me sick at first and then
            It all sank in


            Emanuel E. García, Sinking In, One Hundred Poems2013

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