In memory of GFY
When my best friend asked me to be
a pallbearer for his father’s funeral,
I replied Of course I will, I’d be honored
and felt the anxiety around the edges
as I wondered how far the virus had spread
and how many were unknown positives.
I slipped unnoticed into the narthex,
pumped the hand sanitizer three times,
then signed the guestbook with my own pen
and sat in isolation in a pew near the back.
As a distant organist played old familiars,
purple Lenten banners hung exposed in the air
and The Lord’s Table sat empty and sterile.
When the priest intoned, rise if you are able,
the coffin was wheeled down the center aisle
followed by my friend, hefting his toddler.
His older daughter halted beside my pew,
her face split into an infectious grin.
Service over, I joined the other pallbearers,
the wooden handle smooth and slick in my palm
as I stepped in formation to the hearse,
aware of the others around the coffin
and my friend standing in silent witness,
his hands on the heads of his children.
Smelling of hand sanitizer, I drove
in the slow line of blinking taillights,
my right hand over my beating heart.