The Minister’s Death

That long fall,
when the voices stopped
in the tweed mouth
of his radio, and sermons
stood behind the door
of his study in files
no one would ever again inspect,
and even the black shoes
and vestments, emptied of him,
were closed away,
they sat together Sundays
in the house, now hers —
the son wearing his suit
and water-combed hair,
and mother in a house dress,
holding the dead
man’s cane. Somewhere
at the edge of the new
feeling just beginning
between them, floorlamps
bloomed triple bulbs
and windowsills sagged
with African violets,
and the old woman,
not knowing exactly how
to say his face looked lovely
in the chair, encircled
by a white aura
of doily, said nothing
at all. And the son,
not used to feeling
small inside the great
shoulderpads of his suit,
looked down at the rugs
on rugs to where the trees kept
scattering the same, soft
puzzle of sunlight
until, from time to time,
she found the words
of an old dialogue they both
could speak:”How has the weather
been this week? What time
did you start out from Keene?”

-Wesley McNair