Remember back when we were kids?
Mom would load us into the back seat of her ‘53 Buick
and haul us off to Calvary Cemetery.
A stop at our favorite flower vendor,
the sweet scent of stock,
sickening, filled up the car.
We’d visit your mother
and the grave of an unknown soldier, a few rows down
for my father whose body was, who-knows-where.
At noon she’d hush us up
to observe the three hours
and hand us tuna fish sandwiches on Wonder bread
soggy by now ‘cause of too much mayo.
We’d eat in silence, giggling,
not knowing how to spend the time,
not knowing how to pray.
Today—no mushy sandwich.
Today—she won’t go.
“I’ll be there soon enough,” she says,
but you are there—alone.
I wrote this yesterday for Day 18 of National Poetry Month. The three hours refers to a traditional practice of spending noon to three PM in silent prayer, in observation of the time Christ was said to hang upon the cross.