From the archives — from The Survivor by Jenn Koiter

from The Survivor

I speed, late as usual,
to the ceremony
thirteen days after your death.
You hated my driving.
Slow is smooth,
you said, again and again,
smooth is fast, but
I never slowed down.

In your brother’s living room,
your white friends sit solemnly,
trained by church, while
your Indian friends relax
and chat quietly, trusting
the ritual will go on
just fine without them.

Marigolds draping
your photo, spot of vermilion
on your forehead, the drone
of the pandit’s chant: the atheist in you
would have hated all of it, but
you left. You don’t get to pick.

The pandit says your journey
to the afterlife takes a day
for you, but a year for us, that finally
you were leaving, having lingered
these thirteen days. Though
I hadn’t felt you there,
or at your house, or your memorial.
Even my dreams, when I dream of you,
are only dreams. Perhaps,
as usual, you left early.
Lord knows you hate to be late.

Couldn’t you linger
just a little longer, just this once?
Slow is smooth,
smooth is fast. Surely
you can make up the time.

by Jenn Koiter

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, July 1, 2021

photo courtesy of Day Eight