by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)
I had met him just once
a week before his sudden death.
I hardly knew him at all,
an afternoon’s conversation,
We had spoken for hours,
and I felt there was a connection,
saw him as a possible new friend.
(You know now difficult it is for older
men like me to make new friends.)
So, even though I barely knew him,
his sudden death shocked me, and
I felt compelled to attend his funeral
where I heard the usual — the 23rd Psalm,
“turn, turn, turn,” and a few desultory speeches
—ending with the Mourner’s Kaddish.
His life was described in twenty minutes.
Surely, a human being rates more time.
Surely, there is more to be said about a life.
Was his soul in a hurry to get to heaven?
Did the rabbi want to prevent excessive
crying over the casket?
If the soul hovers at the grave site, as rabbis
say, waiting to hear words of praise, words of
sorrow, before making its journey to higher realms,
then perhaps I could see the need for such urgency.
But maybe I was being momentarily insensitive
taking notes in effect for my own demise, not
understanding why the funeral was so truncated,
or why my friend’s soul wasn’t allowed a final communion
with all the mourners at the place of his eternal rest.
Shouldn’t all souls be granted this indulgence?
Mel Glenn, the author of twelve books for young adults, is working on a poetry book about the pandemic tentatively titled Pandemic, Poetry, and People. He has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years. You can find his most recent poems in the YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy, edited by M. Jerry Weiss. If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit: http://www.melglenn.com/