My Aunt Lily is dead in St. Louis.
She was a seamstress.
The family is angry and mourning.
Aunt Lily was laid out in a plain black dress
crudely stitched by a tailor at the funeral home.
I am not angry, I didn’t know her very well.
A dress is nothing to mourn at the end of a life.
Yesterday I found a young blue heron in the marsh.
I held it gently, stroked its long throat,
listened to it rasp in terror or contentment; how do you know?
My brother wanted to take it home
but I knew some adult would make us bring it back.
So I set it down and we went to look for frogs,
when I looked back the heron was gone
as if it had turned into a reed, become some dark space
where we would never dream to look.
Today they buried Aunt Lily, in her poor black dress.
She is in the world beneath dirt, where worms work slowly
to empty the long box of everything but the black dress,
bones and her hard white teeth.
The adults weep as they need to. I think they knew her well.
My mother said Lily is in heaven sewing robes for the angels.
I think there is nothing left of her but a sewing kit, mannequin
and a few bolts of cloth.
I think I’m the only one here who believes that.
When I look around at my family, praying and weeping
all I can think about is that blue heron
turning into a reed, becoming some dark space
where no one ever dreams to look.