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Sunday Supper

ISSUE:  Autumn 1998

Something the preacher said
about tradition,
“the corpse buried facing east,”
has them comparing the High Street cemetery
to our county plot.

We know our kin’s bodies won’t waken,
but Uncle Ray says
“if they stood up they’d face the rising sun,”
and that settles the question.

Or rather turns it back
to the Thurman woman found dead
“what was her sister’s name,
the one, also dead, who married an Overfelt
with the garage below Redwood?”

Tradition is the wander of their talk,
the crooked paths of marriage and divorce,
names covered with other names.
Mother notices an empty
plate and passes the warm bowl.
The wondering—whose brother, whose second child,
whose husband that remarried so quickly—
feeds out like an anchor line.

Seconds and the dead accumulate.
“Here, this is the last spoonful.
We might as well clean this out.”

We empty the bowls, fill the graves,
This is the body.


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