Monday, November 20, 2006

Large Man

He was a large man
even in death, his
barrelled chest now
still but solid lying waiting
on the bed for the

We felt the need to
rest our hands on his
ribcage in hope of
understanding the mystery
of death, that someone
could be there and still
not be with us, that
a heart could really
stop and blood
run cold.

When he was cremated
the weight of his presence
resisted the furnace’s heat.
The small box in which he was
returned to us possessed a
startling heaviness, a
big man squeezed into
a cube of rosewood.

One spring afternoon
we embarked on
a clandestine mission.
We trespassed the scout
camp where we had been raised,
took the path to the outdoor chapel.
Birds and insects watched
as we scattered him,
soft grey dust
billowing in warm air.
We lay him down under the
trees he had tended,
and on the grass
he once had trimmed.

When we got home
we found he was lodged
under our fingernails,
encrusted in our skin.
We wondered about etiquette
in such situations then shrugged
as we washed him off.
Earth and water, man of
elements returned to the
place of his making.
Our large man
at last reduced.

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