Into a Roiling Sea

These funeral haiku were first published, in parts, in Modern Haiku and in the book Haiku Friends, Volume 3 (Osaka, Japan: Print 819, 2009), edited by Masaharu Hirata. See complete publication details at the end. See also “Haiku Friends, Volume 2” and “Haiku Friends, Volume 3.” See also “Buried.”

a long stop light—

the air so clear

the day of the funeral

harpsichord music—

my awkward smile on meeting

a distant cousin

at the singing

of the Lord’s Prayer,

her shoulders shudder

during the eulogy,

something I never knew

about great-grandmother

receiving line—

when I greet the widower

my voice cracks

leaving the room:

the casket to be opened

for the granddaughter

falling rose petals . . .

the tattoo

on the pallbearer’s arm

the car ahead

in the funeral procession,

an Acura Vigor

spring sun—

a pallbearer stops

to tie his shoe

pallbearers pause dust motes slowly falling

open grave—

the minister’s polished shoes

sinking into dark earth

at the graveside

the moment uncle hesitates

with his rose

after the burial

thud of an acorn

on the limo roof

sheer sky—

the sun sets

into a roiling sea

All poems written in St. Helena, Novato, and Benecia, California, after a funeral for a relative on 2 November 1994, except “spring sun” (6 June 1994, Foster City, California), “pallbearers / dust motes” (27 January 1990, Foster City, California), “open grave” (21 May 1994, Foster City, California), and “after the burial” (24 February 1995, St. Helena, California). “spring sun,” “falling rose petals,” and “open grave” all appeared in Modern Haiku XXX:1, Winter–Spring 1999. Except for the three poems published in Modern Haiku, this sequence also appeared in Haiku Friends 3 (Osaka, Japan: Print 819, 2009), edited by Masuharu Hirata.