Farewell to the Grandmothers

Today we gathered on the shore
and said goodbye to lovers long-gone
or farewell to the grandmothers
whose loving hands felt so warm.

…to the uncles and the aunts,
with your broken bottles
and your whiskey breath…

those days are long past,
but I’m sure
you gave us all
your best.

Goodbye, goodbye,
lay there upon your funeral pyre,
and go back to the earth,
be burned,

as a blessing.

I’m still here
with all the rest,
our footprints are in the sand,
flaming arrows,
nocked and ready,
are held, smoking,
across our chests.

Brothers, sisters,
each dearly missed,
are the pallbearers
of the dead, adrift,

but, by their hands,

strong, clutching grips,
each forever lifts
the funeral ship
across the crest.

Oh, the children have gone on,
empty are the arms of mothers

left weeping and alone,
but by hand they knit
the smallest dresses

…silk ties, white shirts,
each and all, so finely-pressed.

Oh, the children have gone on,
empty are the hearts of mothers,
left weeping and alone.

Say goodbye, goodbye,
by the warmth of the funeral pyre,
clasp hands, hug, and press

her head against your heart,

remembering to live your life,
and give your honest blessing,
…give your very best
to the lonely dead.

Under a pillar of black smoke,
it is both black flag
and billowed canvas-cloth,
they go onward,

to their final rest.

Say goodbye to these memories,
bittersweet, black and white,
raise a toast to the voyage
of a burning ship
in the blackest night.

Over the horizon,
slips the light
of the funeral ship
and its healing fire,

…so raise a toast
to forgetting the pain,

and let it go,

like a hangover that takes
a wicked night with it
when it goes.

© CG Tenpenny, 2021.

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