The viewing (a poem)

A memory from twenty-two years ago, somehow prompted by the first line…

Sense the direction


Turn right at the church

Park in front of the building you’ve never been to before

Enter through the two doorways

Ask the attendant at the front desk where the viewing is

Follow the attendant to the room

Sit next to the open casket

Think about how the figure lying there looks familiar and alien

This is a person you once knew

This is not the person you once knew

Wonder why you are here

Wonder if you should have come

Wonder if you really wanted this to be the last memory you have of this person you once knew

Wonder if this person you once knew would have wanted this to be your last memory of the two of you together

Wonder what, exactly, you are supposed to be feeling (whatever it is you are feeling)

Get up and leave the room

Say ‘thank you’ to the attendant and leave the building

Drive home, resolving to never do this again

(30 July 2018)