Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 4, December 2011

Lisa Fleck Dondiego
Ossining, New York, USA


At the Wake

Friends, drunk and sober, come in busloads to greet me and your cousin who sits at the front of the room. After the wreck, it is she who plays captain's widow.

ship sinking
we pray
waves at our feet

In the photos' cracked glazes and creases you're still present: baby barely able to sit up, blanket wrapped around shoulders; toddler in hooded shirt on the beach at Coney Island; awkward teenager, already backing away.

boy of nine
on a ladder
hanging ornaments

At the church, I take the cruets, go through the motions of communion. God is Catholic and Irish. The priest doesn't know you, absolves you.

The service is sparse: a few friends, your cousins lined up in the pew. A brother, absent. Let him go to the Devil for stealing from you all your life, crying to the family that you locked your cupboards to starve him. Last year he faked his own demise, the girlfriend calling to report his last breath, asking for five thousand dollars to bury him. Now he wants to profit from your real death.

one day
a lifetime away

On one side of the mass card, an Irish blessing of wind, rain, sunshine, God holding you in the palm of His hand. On the other: "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me, as though I were beside you. I loved you so . . .'twas Heaven here with you."

a hand holding mine
wind rises
to touch me


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