photo by Adam Crosby

The Sexton’s Little Observations

Sometimes no one comes.
Or only the pastor,
or a pastor and one mourner. Can’t count me,
I’m here to re-flatten sod. That lone friend then realizes
the velocity at which a life leaves the collective radar.
Ping. Hey, I just work here. At this late hour
I can’t help with the construction of robust social networks.
I’m paid to move dirt, to chop dandelions.
I didn’t know the gone one in question.

Sometimes everyone’s composed.
They’re somber,
but they plan to make it through, resume their business
without truly breaking down. All fine
‘til an over-poignant lyric from a funeral singer
cracks it wide open, the ole waterworks fountain.
One splashes the next, hardly any staying dry

Sometimes the speaker falters, chokes up
on unceasing love
for the decedent. Those gathered can barely stand it.
Insincerity is worse—whitewashing scoundrels as saintly.
Reminders of the rapid onset of post-life obscurity?
Unhelpful, yet tolerable. But when heartfelt eulogizers
swamp themselves on memories, the crowd sags
from gravity. I retreat to the equipment shed
when the speaker staggers from the weight.
Otherwise I try to listen, stand back, take it in.
I memorize their names. patch the grass here
back to seamless. It’s about respect.

Sometimes the guy with the shovel
goes home sadder than the guests.

Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. Mercer won 1st, 2nd & 3rd place of the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes and the won Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Prize. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: Down in the Dirt, The Drabble, The Lake and Softblow.

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