Standing Still

by Yvonne Osborne


We put our mother in the ground
nine days before the winter solstice
and how they dug that hole is beyond me
but we had a tent to block the wind
green carpet under our feet
and blankets on our chairs.

Our father had an honor guard,
a thirteen-gun salute and taps over the green
on a hot August day, but he was in the war.

Mother only commanded a household of nine
baby on the hip and toddler in hand
arbiter, financier, guardian of the keep,
she could dance through the night in her slim dancer’s feet.

They tucked the satin lining around her shoulders,
her red jacket and jewel-toned scarf,
and lowered her to the bottom of the casket
with a hidden crank and shut the lid.
We weren’t supposed to see that. Now it’s all I see.

We told them the rosary stayed
but we donated the eyeglasses.
She picked out the frames six months ago
at a place by the lake. We had lunch afterwards.
It was summer then.

In the cold of now a priest robed in black read from the bible
and the funeral director culled roses from the casket spray.
The greenery and baby’s breath stayed
but we tucked the roses in our coats
for the walk through drifts of snow to the cars keeping warm.

We’ve put our mother in the ground
and now the tent and the green are gone
replaced by a mound of frozen dirt,
companion to the one not settled.
They say they got her in just in time.

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