You always said I’d get you in the end—

the joke longstanding between us, Foley—

as if the twenty years you had on me

guaranteed you an earlier heaven.

We’d grin and get back to our local jobs—

your civic duties, my slow processions.

You always had a head for numbers, Bob,

and could be counted on to keep accounts of things:

how principals and interests get amortized,

when enough’s enough, the lives and times

of ancestors, the birthdays of grandchildren,

Lenten observances, the rites of spring.

So here we are, your priest, your townspeople,

your brothers and sisters and their families,

your sons and daughters and their sons and daughters

your beloved Virginia, all here, gathered round

to these grave duties. We give you back to God

a little grudgingly. We want to keep

your easy laughter, your fierce protections,

your honor and your loyalty and graces.

Still, even in the ground we see reflections:

the image of your hope in these men’s faces,

your love in their sisters’, your faith in their mother.

Good husband, father, brother, kinsman, friend—

you got it right—in the end, we get each other.

—Thomas Lynch

Thomas Lynch’s most recent books are The Sin-Eater—A Breviary and The Good Funeral, co-authored with Thomas G. Long. He has taught in the Department of Mortuary Science at Wayne State University, the Graduate Writing Program at the University of Michigan, and at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

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Published in the 2010-02-26 issue: View Contents
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