Sunday, March 22, 2009
(For Francis L. Snare, 1920–2009)
It is finished, old friend.
We have gathered and wept,
listened to sermon and song,
prayed, eulogized, remembered.
Said our final good-byes.
An uneasy assembly
seated first in a hushed room,
laden thick with flower scent,
then standing amid a field of stones,
with ragged sky overhead,
doves murmuring in the eaves,
wrens and sparrows singing
in the hedgerows beyond.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
We gave you back to the earth
you once worked and knew
by the sweat of your brow.
On this cool March morning
when spring’s hope begins
to fulfill its joyous promise,
a bit too early for wildflowers,
though purple crocus bloom
and red maples glow crimson,
we have done what we could,
what was necessary and right.
You always loved the spring,
would have delighted in this day.
I tell you, the creek down the hill
looks fishable! Clear and low,
riffles sparkling their secret pledge.
Smallmouth bass would surely
be stirring in the emerald pools,
responding to the ancient pull
of warm and increasing light.
Your laughter would be booming,
exhilarated by the sight, eager,
confident of the vernal potential.
Instead, a nearby workman leans
on his shovel, waiting patiently
for those who linger, reluctant,
slow to turn away and find their cars.
Where do we go from here?
After we’ve wound our way
along the few miles of rural backroads,
to the little country church where
a meal is being served to those
desiring food and fellowship.
What can we do after that?
We’ve bid you fond farewell,
though the gesture seems inadequate.
Yet those who knew your faith would not
call you back—even if we could.
Still, I make this solemn promise…
though seasons pass one into another,
so long as one of us standing here remains,
you will not be forgotten.