A CANDLE, A PYRE
for Mark Battle, Oakland PD #8189
Afterwards, I sit by my fireplace
in the same funeral suit
I wore to my father's service;
except I said no eulogy this time,
nor did I witness your body sliding
into a marble vault. Your body, the handsome
vessel that carried around your sweet soul,
was laid inside a wooden casket; chosen
by your mother, draped in the flag
you honored, and heaved onto the shoulders
of men who claimed you as their brother.
I did not see your face one last time
before they closed the ceiling on you; I arrived
in time to say goodbye, and watched
as they carried you through a flood of tears,
your mother wading behind.
They set you down so gently,
as if to keep our hearts from breaking.
The finality was heard in your mother's gasp
as the hearse doors closed. I went to her—
her tiny body of bones wailing inside
the weak cage of my arms. We are all trying
to find our place in this world
that has shifted, now, with your absence.
This is my candle for you, Mark.
But a candle is not enough.
Nor would a pyre be.
This poem may not be reproduced without the author's permission.