* * * * *

alan is dead

The last I spoke with Alan
He was asleep in a wooden box
With the lid closed
A blanket covering his casket
Embroidered in some foreign language,
That reads, “Dead person inside”
which he was.
He needed that blanket
The chapel was cold
and he was so thin
Having eaten nothing for days
And chilly like the dead.
I stood guard over Alan’s body
The last person in the chapel
A candle burning
And the air conditioning on.
I stood there a long time
Not wanting him to be alone
Waiting for someone to remove his body
Only to learn the staff was waiting for me to leave
So they could.

I called Joy
Sitting alone in her office
Near the sea
And proposed
We chant together
Which we did
My cell phone resting on Alan’s wooden coffin
The speaker on
Joy chanting softly into the phone
Me chanting out loud
Alone in the chapel
wondering what if anything
the body in the box
felt of the vibration
of our hearts
our breaths
and our voices
our prayers
and our intentions.

We live in a small town
Joy and I
In a small cottage
With a dog
And one mouse
Who - while I was away at the funeral -
Must have been practicing
His high wire act
And had fallen somehow
Straight into the dog’s water bowl
and drowned

Like the mouse
Alan had known years of high wire balancing
And had fallen off his wire
Only to land miraculously on his feet
Dazed but still breathing
A dozen times
He just kept running
Every time but once

Two weeks after his death
I sent Alan an email
With Picasso’s line drawing
Of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg -
It was the anniversary of their deaths -
And about the struggle in Palestine -
Which I knew he’d want to hear about
And would have had something to say
That would have helped put my pain
In perspective
But the email returned,
With a note that read,
“Out of Office,”
Whereupon I noticed my own high wire perch
And losing balance
Fell down praying
And so glad
I had chanted
Over Alan’s coffin