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,
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,
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.