Funeral at Saint-Sulpice
from 7 Little Parisian Poems
Under the raised coffin baby baths full
of white and gold chrysanthemums
making an earthly landing place
and against the altar rails huge wreaths
and bouquets, including a single potted begonia.
Such anchoring against the absurd
trompe l'oeil altar where Mary, child in arms,
slides on beige concrete, only arrested by
a final fold where a tiny lamb resides
like a punctuation point. Solemnly
the little gathering circles the coffin
and drops of water fall on the flowers
and then the coffin and the flowers part.
The organ's final note shimmers over
the flowers' bared heads. A shivering
silence falls and the undertakers come back
to lift the tubs of flowers onto their shoulders
to carry the wreaths under their arms
and to follow at a distance the coffin
through the light-beckoning far door.