A grave motorcade
rolls along the old pitted lane.
Amidst the relay of mourners, three sisters
lurch in separate cars, each clutching a tissue,
each nursing a lonely grief.
Lily-laden funeral wreathes cast cruel shade over flashes of sensory screenshot:
mother reading an article from the Guardian, words falling on deaf ears that would be keen to hear her words today;
the Saturday fragrance of vanilla and yeast, of cocoa sifting into a blue-striped bowl, while she recited poetry, the selection of which reflected her mood;
the humour of Carroll and Lear, the beauty of Shakespeare, the passion of Yeats;
the ballet of her every movement.
choked by white-trumpet odour
chased off by the celebrant’s tribute,
distanced by mortality’s truth.
Heavily, they host the wake,
making sad celebration in a room where once
they ate and fought and played.
Greeting the sombre-suited guests, a sense of
marks each sorrowful hug, a feeling of
punctuates every platitude. A dun-coloured wilderness
where a mother’s rainbow love once encircled
a fertile horizon.
Three blonde heads
dutifully nod in a jaded knot of grey, brown and red,
keeping their distance like amnesiac triplets,
unable to acknowledge the bond between them,
though grieving the body that links them.
Esther breaks away, promptly retreating from the pompous uncle
who once told her to pull her socks up.
Sophie escapes from the neighbour who ran over her favourite doll.
Marie extracts herself from the babble of a virtual stranger.
Three sisters, divided
by the gifts and thefts of time, estranged by perversity
of personality; yet each makes an unplanned dash
in search of an echo of childhood laughter.
Landing together by the river,
the sisters silently step back, form a line,
firmly grasp each other’s hands, unsurprised
by this impromptu contact; this once
With one accord they take
a running leap, screeching with fear and hilarity,
bracing for a wet slap, sinking, rising encircled by
a naughty water-dance of funeral garb.
spluttering with mirth,
they smack the surface, watching diamonds spray
in the late-summer light.
Their thoughts play in silent harmony:
Forty years. Forty years since mum, grinning at our antics, leapt,
describing a perfect pirouette, to land with a blithe ripple
that danced in a widening embrace as she swam back to the bank.
The river steps back in time,
The coffin regresses to become a strong tree.
The lilies of death are gone; are less than a twinkle
in the eye of an unborn seed.
The three sisters feel the length of their mother’s reach.
In this divine moment, she lives.
Three giggling children await
her refined splash.
Written for today’s Word of the Day Challenge; Mirth
©Jane Paterson Basil