The morning before a funeral for another–out for some air

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The morning before a funeral for another–out for some air

From its handsomeness
and smallish size, I know
it must have been hers
and hesitate.
But it’s a raincoat
left in the hall closet
and it’s raining too hard
for no cover, so
I put on what’s not been worn
for ten years
and jog/walk out.

Buttoning the collar–it’s cold
in the rain–I catch the scent
of her lipstick–
a perfume of waxed
flowers–not
a favorite scent, but I inhale
as much as I can, so that my breath
is out of sync with the
slow fall of my feet
through the sluiced streets,
then the damp tow path.

Though, even as I’m conscious
of the particularity of her
in that scent,
I know that what I’m really trying to find
is life itself, life
after death–
some whisper from the ghost
of lipstick ten years gone
of the soul’s
perseverance.

As I turn
towards the river, a cardinal settles crimson
on the misted rail that separates the walk
from the muddy flow, less
than an arm’s breadth
away–
Just on, come roses,
a profusion of pink-red,
and beyond, a perfect cadmium line hangs
like a sign
from a man’s neck–the leash
of the dogs he lets roam-

and I see now in the scent at my own neck,
her smile, a bright crescent whose shape
I try to compare to a sliver
of sideways moon, but that I realize,
as I jog on, is more truly like
the outline of a child’s palm cupped
to receive wonder–

suddenly there is a surfeit of water
everywhere–the path gleaming,
the river swollen, a fountain someone forgot
to turn off, and there–
and there–
a splash in the current
of something adept at surfacing
and diving again
that I never quite
catch sight of.

****************************
Here’s a draft poem, written just for myself, that I am also posting to With Real Toads Open Link Night.  I call it a draft.  I have a strong inclination to take out the entire third stanza.  It’s also been suggested to me that I should take out the leash!  Any thoughts from readers would be much appreciated.  

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26 Comments on “The morning before a funeral for another–out for some air”

  1. reneeisokay Says:

    Absolutely beautiful.

  2. brian miller Says:

    the title sets the tone…so much to carry that day before the funeral…the childs hand cupped to receive wonder…love that line…smiles. also the something surfacing there in the end…

  3. claudia Says:

    that last part is wonderful – the more felt than seen… i also love how you include scent as it goes just directly into our emotional center without taking the detour through the brain… very moving write k.

  4. Sherry Marr Says:

    This is incredibly affecting…….her scent, you out searching for life, the sluicing streets, each image painted so clearly, the child’s palm cupped to receive wonder, and her moon-sliver smile. Wow. I felt like I was the one doing the walking and the looking. Great writing!

  5. Steve King Says:

    You’ve said so many things here in just the perfect way; but for me, the idea is so good–that the imagination is stirred by such disparate influences. Seemingly everything in the world can become invested with the spirit of ‘other.’ Of course it’s easy to state the idea the way I’ve just done. Not so easy to demonstrate it beautifully the way you have with the cascade of images you’ve chosen.
    Steve K.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Steve, thanks very much. I do not think what you’ve done is easy! It’s beautiful, and probably the result of a much more cohesive (i.e. possibly less fragmented) brain. But I very much appreciate your kind comments. K.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Steve–in my comment I was thinking of your beautiful poem about the other–I realize now you were just referring to your comment! Crazy and you must forgive me–I couldn’t quite understand what you were writing–I have not been home for nearly a month due to this death in my family–so I am really quite tired right now. k.

  6. Poetic Soul Says:

    This is so moving

  7. Kenia Cris Says:

    What a draft! My drafts have no more than 5 bad lines most of the time. :/

    I love the progression, the discovery of life that happens with the help of connecting with the very essence of the other.

    Beautiful. ❤


  8. “but that I realize,
    as I jog on, is more truly like
    the outline of a child’s palm cupped
    to receive wonder”
    Wonderful.
    The flow of your words is in accord with the theme. A tinge bit of sadness and a much larger thought of feeling that presence again. Powerful. And the end tells us of the world being manipulated by where our thoughts are. 🙂
    -HA


  9. I like it as is. It worked wonderfully for me. The yearning, the red, the raincoat made me want to wear those clothes of those passed on like dreams. I think the third stanza brings me more into the grief experience or the mystery of death. And I love the idea of a fountain someone forgot to turn off. Those feelings that well and run over.

  10. lynndiane Says:

    Lovely remembrance, K! A strong draft…yes, I would edit the leash out 🙂 The olfactory memories are powerful…i’ve buried my face in old clothes for the lingering scent of mother love.


  11. I like the sense I got as I read that this was a kind of internal monologue, thoughts inspired by memories and the small details picked up by the eye, noted in peripheral vision (like the dog leash) and everything circling back to that ponderous question of humanity – how to live with loss without crumbling, and an answer we can never quite catch sight of.


  12. I love how you’ve matched that self-consuming internal reasoning with the external impositions – the rain, the sudden water – a melding of the tangible and intangible as thoughts disrupt reality.

    I could quote several of the lines here back at you, but these ones really jumped out at me “not
    a favorite scent, but I inhale
    as much as I can” – they say so much about the nature of humanity, that need for something instead of nothing. A powerful write.

  13. Marian Says:

    isn’t it amazing how a scent can linger so long, and can immediately bring such an association? really, that kind of thing can be quite shocking. i like this, i imagine the lipstick, the flowers, the cardinal, all mirroring one another.


  14. A poem with so many senses involved.. really make me feel what you think.. as an observer we cannot really know that.. so we have to become one through your description.. in a way the last stanza summarize it all.. so it is a little different.. but I think the beauty of it shines .. (it’s almost like a poem in itself)…


  15. Love the reflective quality of this write, the scent related memories, the loss. I think the third stanza is fine and would leave the leash in . . . they all set the scene.

  16. Helen Says:

    Your poem had a profound impact on me .. my mother passed away seven years ago, in the month of May. I still have many of her personal effects .. often find myself searching for her scent, any trace of her I can feel, touch. This is beautiful.

  17. Brendan Says:

    When my kid brother suddenly died some years ago, we had gone out to Portland to gather his effects. No one had counted on the memorial service that had been put together by the church and AA communities he was such a part of. I had just thrown a few things into a suitcase before flying out — had nothing to wear to the memorial — so I grabbed a shirt and tie and jacket out of my brother’s closet (he was sized like my twin, eight years separated). Several of his friends, including his girlfriend, did a terrible double-take when I walked in for the memorial. And I did feel inside his skin right then–a few whiffs of cologne too on his jacket which was hugely disorienting. The separation between life and death is so wide, and yet details like you so wonderfully lay out here have such a ghostly ability to reanimate and make things flush with the lost. For the poem it isn’t important who the lost one is — sister, mother, friend –only that for the moment the speaker wears that raincoat, the walk is dual, has feet in two worlds. The third stanza perhaps gives up a lot but then what proceeds then has a vaster rudder to it. I say leave it in. The delicacy of the last stanza is perfect.

  18. vandana Says:

    Your words paint a vivid picture.

  19. grapeling Says:

    leave it all in, K, please. you’ve captured that stream of consciousness that pervades all perusals of mortality… ~


  20. This is perfect in its evocation of loss and the experience of the other that scent brings, so primal. I like the third stanza as it links to the inevitable journey from the particular loss to the universal wonder of what happens after death, to her, to us… It’s an exquisite write that brought me back to the loss of my mother and the vivid dreams I had of her returning and hugging me. I yearned for those dreams long after they stopped.


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