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.