Everyone here, seated quietly

spaced out in curved rows of old wooden pews

thinks you rest

willing to do nothing for once

inside that dully gleaming silver colored

box with a spray of roses and gladioli

on the top, sprigs of greenery

reaching artfully over the edges

toward us.

The pastor didn’t know you

so there’s not much he can say

although he knows he has to say something


if possible. Now a neighbor

who knew you through the climates of your life

speaks of you,

how you farmed

(I remember this) when tractors

had no air conditioned cabs,

how you defended

feeding your barn cats as a tax deduction

(I cheered for you),

how you flew

your twin engine Beech as charter

to finance land and better combines

(I logged instrument time with you).
You wouldn’t believe

any more than I do

that you’re somewhere above us

flying around like an eagle

(nursing home a speck in the town below)

but it’s a pretty thought


Marydale Stewart's chapbook, Inheritance, was published in 2008 by Puddin' head Press in Chicago. She has a poem
in the 2009 fall/winter Aurorean and another in that magazine's broadsheet. She has been a college English teacher, 
librarian, and stable bum in Illinois, Kansas, and Colorado. She lives in a house dominated by her rescued cats and

This funeral marked the end of a 40-year friendship. As I worked through my own grief and loss, the hymn stayed in my mind and I thought about how he would have reacted to it, so that’s why I used the apostrophe device. Then the poem came to me in the form of specifics, first, the pews in this tiny rural Congregational church, the casket itself, and even the memories defined by certain events and moments. I do have a pilot’s license (no longer current); he had an instructor’s certificate. But there were many other events over the years…I think sharing a friend’s life and family lends another dimension to our own memories. It’s as if you have taken another person’s life and folded it into your own.  



Copyright 2009