My First Funeral

In Father Murphy's car that afternoon
We travelled to the funeral.
Our rôle was chiefly ceremonious,
The two of us, at ten, experienced with altar work.
In cottas bleached and billowy, wide-sleeved, we flanked the priest.
I held the polished cross on lofty pole,
Patrick clutched the candlestick.

Black jackets, pale faces, everywhere
And, for the first time ever, I watched
A big man's eye welling up like a spring.
The drop of water rolled over his parchment skin.
Pat's little flame and its brass tube shimmered in sun.
I held on, damp forehead pressed to the wood
And afterwards, for the job, we were tipped.

For the next couple of days at school
Patrick would approach me to say,
Wasn't it funny, all those grown-ups crying?

I got that he was craving the comfort of agreement.
I gave it him, reluctant and weak,
The schoolboy code of dishonesty reflexive;
Too complicated to express
The shocking stirrings in my groin.
I want so now to hold my pained friend and kick the hurt out of him,
But, then, I said yes – Yes it was, it was very funny.

Clive Donovan

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Clive Donovan
would be pleased to hear them.