everything    but    the    details

	At the end of the viewing, my grandmother
	stands up, smooths down her skirt,
	discreetly pats her hair,

	and tells Uncle John to go get Daddy.
	It was a party-ending ritual;
	for forty years she sent children,

	then grandchildren to roust her husband
	from under the kitchen table
	where he crouched, scratching a cat's neck.

	Later, we eased him from the upstairs bed,
	adjusting his oxygen tubes, searching him
	for contraband cookies and sweets

	that he continued to steal long after he ceased to eat.
	All the family is gathered now, 
	gossiping over the price of a new dress,

	the second cousin who showed up pregnant,
	ignoring everything but the details
	that can be grasped, or held.

	When Jessica kisses the coffin,
	praying audibly in her creased Downs slur,
	we praise the lilies the nuns have sent,

	how graceful they will look
	in my grandmother's front room, afterwards, 
	where no one will sit and watch them.

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