(For Karen)

Sometimes death comes without pomp and circumstance, no large circle of support,
just a candle flame quietly extinguished, and only a few notice the world is darker now.

Left behind is a truck full of Things-Not-You, stuff you collected in life—
bought, received, saved, the bits of grass and string carried home in your beak to create a nest.

When a life stops, what happens?  There is cleaning up to do, the necessity of crying.
So much to dispose of, divide up, plant in the ground or scatter.  Pieces of you, your life.

There is comfort in a whole group gathering around, a meal in a church, words of goodbye, armfuls of comfort.
The journey of grief begins a slow pilgrimage.

When this ritual is absent, you realize just how wispy we are, smoke from a smokestack.
Feathers no longer needed, floating off on their own, blowing across brown winter grass.

We have a yearning to make sense of this thing called Death.  We can barely make sense of Life and we live in it;
Death is a foreign country we never really expected to visit.

Who will remember us?  Mourn us?  Miss us?  Live on to tell we even existed?
We can stand and face the silent history of small lives lived long ago, touch a time-

polished skull in the dark underground of Paris catacombs, break a nose bone without trying, a face once as skin-covered, soft and smiling as we are today.

One day we will be a part of the tunnel of bones going on and on and on.  Who will walk along and look at us then?  Who will remember?

 –Theresa Jarosz Alberti, 2009