Winter Poem

by Michael P. McManus



A Mercurochrome-colored sky above her November mourning.

The light or the lack of it.

The way it


                       from its single syllable—

a witness to what is not


                A wind-blown leaf spirals

through the air like a listless soul,

                                                     but to where?


She turns her collar up against the cold    

and stands looking down

                                       on the dirt mound

that was not there the day before.  


It's surrounded by flowers and a Styrofoam Crucifix.

There is no Christ

                            nailed on it now.  


There is only the coffin,


                                                 It is

a five-thousand dollar wood and metal rectangle,  

which the funeral home sold at a five-hundred percent markup;


                            the mortician called it,


while the mother sobbed for her daughter.

Inside the box it's cold and dark,

                                                    but the little girl

still wears a summer dress.

Embalming fluid has replaced any cancer

                                   that was left.   


The maple trees sway. The wind calls to life,

                                                    some supplication

for the blessing and the blessed.


There is no headstone, yet. Just a pair of sneakers,

large and small that the mother has left behind.


She turns to walk away, barefoot on the straw-colored grass,

across the cold, cold ground. If only it were water,                                 

                                                                                she could drown.