Burial at Sea by DeWitt Clinton

Burial at Sea

We’re sailing now, a sunset sail, friends
who knew all three, as we’ve brought
what’s left of our very dear ones, one
a husband, another a mother with a
daughter aboard, and a wife, with a
husband aboard, and as soon as the
sun is about to set, we will start opening
bags of bone and ash, and begin to say
prayers, perhaps an Our Father, perhaps
a solo, and a Kaddish for the wife, so all
can finally come to rest not in old graveyards,
but somewhere in the deep cold waters,
somewhere where we’ll probably never
be able to plot ourselves back for others,
careful to note the direction of the evening
wind, who’s already lifting shot glasses, all
a bit tipsy, careful not to join our departed,
then a repast for all, and by nightfall, we’ll
scatter back to our lonely homes, remembering
this beautiful summer night where we all cried
goodbyes, remembering where we were that
lovely summer evening sailing out into the bay.

*

DeWitt Clinton taught English, Creative Writing, and World of Ideas courses for over 30 years at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. His earlier collections of poetry include The Conquistador Dog Texts, The Coyot. Inca Texts, (New Rivers Press), At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018), By A Lake Near A Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters (Is A Rose Press, 2020), and Hello There (Word Tech Communications, 2021). He is a student of Iyengar Yoga, and occasionally substitutes as a yoga instructor for seniors in The Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin.

Sitting Shiva by DeWitt Clinton

Sitting Shiva
       For Jacqueline F. Clinton
             March 11, 1944 – July 3, 2021

We’re back from the ash factory, though we’re not
Exactly a we anymore, are we, and we’ll somehow
Figure out where who is where, but for now, there’s
Just the other, or as some would say, the widow
That sounds something like gazing out a window,
And, of course, that’s right, but looking won’t help
too much in this case, so we’ll light a glassy candle,
And find a stool or two, but then, the other isn’t
Sitting, right, just the one. By early evening then,
Mourners will drop in or by, and most don’t want
To hear about poor Job’s tsuris, as everybody reads
Something from it sometime in a lifetime, and then,
Others will read Job later, for the other. Long prayers,
Sad faces, and then somebody pours something
No one has seen in ages, and all cry out l’chaim.
We’ll repeat six more evenings if we can last that
Long, or for the more reformed, three might do
And by then, we’ll need to find where all the
Plastic boxes are for all the kugels and knishes,
And even a few dishes in Pyrex we can’t even
Make out. Soon we’ll be walking around the block,
A sign of returning to some semblance of life,
Though we’ll be pondering just how we can carry
On knowing how we’re missing what once was you.

*

DeWitt Clinton is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, and lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin. His four collections of poetry include The Conquistador Dog Texts, The Coyot. Inca Texts, (New Rivers Press), At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018) and By A Lake Near A Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters (Is A Rose Press, 2020). A fifth poetry collection has been accepted by Word Tech Communications.