Difference of opinion

It’s spring, but the Prairie won’t hear of it,

Snow clings to the fence rows,

Where dead grass holds it in place,

Waiting for the warmth of someday,

To take it away,

Water is frozen hard in the potholes,

Of the narrow gravel road,

That runs through the pasture,

Up to the dead end,

A cold wind whistles through the phone lines,

The ones that run along the south side of the cemetery,

Where the Union Army vets,

(and two from the competition),

Lie buried side by side,

Flesh and bones long eroded,

And washed away into the Gulf of Mexico,

And beyond,

We are here to bury Uncle Leo,

A fine old soldier; but one given to disorder,

In matters of the heart,

Gary from the VFW says to me,

That Leo was a good old soul who,

Held his liquor well and didn’t swear,

And his first wife said he’d been a kind family man,

On the holidays – especially,

And Candice, a waitress at the Larkspur Inn,

Shivers in a black dress as she stares at the casket,

And tries to cry but she can’t,

But she holds a ten dollar locket in her hand,

And she tells me he always came around on Thursdays,

For Bacardi and coke, and left a five dollar tip – always!

And she didn’t care how many of his ex’s,

Showed up to bury him, because he was a better man,

Than any of them deserved,

Not that he ever spoke of them to her, then:

She starts to cry…

Silence descends and,

We turn our attention to:

The Unitarian pastor who holds her hair in one hand,

(a hard wind blows straight out of Saskatchewan),

She holds a prayer book in the other hand,

So we listen – carefully – as she does her best,

To give polite justice to a man she’s never met,

(not much of a church goer, Uncle Leo).

When it’s over, we walk carefully around,

Graves of dead soldiers, so as not to disturb them,

But before we reach the cars,

Wife three touches me on the arm,

She asks why I’ve come, and I tell her,

How he explained ‘Kentucky windage’ to me when I was ten,

And he taught me how to shoot,

Into a cross wind — he told me he could see a bullet,

As soon as it left the barrel – and follow it with his eye,

Then I say that he was a soldier, who fought,

For family and country, and I wanted to be like him,

When I was ten,

She shakes her head – ,

He was a lying old buzzard she says,

As she walks away

2 thoughts on “Difference of opinion

  1. Ed, You have such a way with words…When I read you, I feel like I am right there…Your grasp of words and feelings is awesome! You know how to “paint pictures” through poetry! Write on!

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