My uncle came here with his father –
a quarter of a century before
the National War Memorial of an ally country.
every day at sundown ceremony –
simple and moving,
spiritual he said, hairs on the back of the neck.
Late afternoon, the bus driver announces
another coach has mechanical issues –
we will divert into the nation’s capital
and transfer the stranded passengers.
“Sorry about that – 75-minute layover necessary
refuelling and statutory meal break.”
I’d never been there – grab takeaway coffee and sandwich
and walked – no plan
internal compass spins on a meridian
to the National War Memorial and eventide ceremony –
moving – hairs on the back of the neck.
The next morning my father called
telling me my uncle had died the day before.
Tall, deliberate, serious,
well it was church after all, and he
a senior cleric.
Reform is in the air,
but change yet to come.
Distant and alone, always looking as if
he was looking at something he didn’t like
He didn’t live many years after I first encountered him
passing from memory and vocabulary.
after his death
death and reform arose in another context –
the death penalty.
A leading researcher quoted the deceased priest
for enlightenment and abolition.
The place of executions had been in his bailiwick.
it was his ministry to counsel, to pray, to hope for absolution
And if not
when the end came
they often asked him to accompany them –
until and including the very end.
He thought “ no,” inhumane and unthinkable, so did.
It was awful he told the archives
it left anyone involved a shadow of themselves.
What brought it here,
bluff or huff?
Perhaps death, sighed over, lovingly
then boxed with the rest – like,
muting or looking away from atrocity on TV news.
the clientele –
looking for a bargain, or the absurd
dressing for necessity without means – school, work, sport
impact at themed functions.
Superstition, would anyone ? – either for real
It would have been something it’s time
style, class, price
and distinction – still, even now.
Two dollars and three dollars for every on the racks
but for $9.99, lone displayed,
a sequined beaded, laced, one careful lady owned