The Meeting the Bar challenge presented at d’Verse Poets is to tackle a tough topic. We are to choose family, death, sex, etc. and use imagery or metaphors to discuss the topic. I am writing about the death of a man through the eyes of a grandchild. I remember my grandmother telling me about her grandfather, who lived with them and died when she was two, being laid out in the drawing room, as was the custom before funeral homes. She wandered into the room and tried waking him up but couldn’t. She always hated death and funerals, and this first experience seemed to be a cause. After my grandmother’s passing, I was talking with her brother one day, and he told the exact same story, but he was the child trying to wake their grandfather. Obviously, the dying and prepping a body for burial in the home made death much more real to these young kids.
Laid out in the drawing room,
silent and still, dearly departed
already gone from shell of a body.
Tiny toddler feet pad into the room.
“Gampa. Gampa,” calls a tiny voice;
sticky fingers reach for cold suit coat,
Silence returns granddaughter’s greeting.
Ignored and rejected; tiny heart breaks,
Tears fall; no hand reaches to comfort;
no arms to hug, rigid and still.
Only mocking silence
from Gampa’s resting figure
laid out in the drawing room.