After a Funeral
After the service and reception hour
the church is locked, and what was in the air
is left to settle out, the hymns and prayers,
the candle smoke, the fragrance of flowers,and the last living soul, who checks the doors
and calls out into the echoing restrooms,
discovers, in the sanctuary, great looms
of sunlight broken into all of its colorsby the stained glass windows, as if Christ
with his outstretched hand were threading
blues and greens, warm yellows and reds
into a warp of silence and a weft of dustsoon to be spread out over the matted carpet
with the faint wheel tracks of the departed.
Copyright © 2019 by Ted Kooser
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Plume is a magazine dedicated to publishing the very best of contemporary poetry. To that end, we will be highly selective, offering twelve poems per monthly issue. A provisional indication of our tastes — “what we are looking for” — may be inferred from the quoted passages (which will change often): a sense of the uncanny, foremost, and of the fineness of language, the huge absences to which it points and partakes of, and the urgency and permanence of its state of departure — the coattails forever — just now — disappearing around the corner…
The title of our review suggests several elements that in one way or another find kinship in our little adventure: Aside from the fact of its French definition — and not forgetting l’homme de plume — these include:
— in English, the feather with which one adorns oneself or bestows on another, whose topmost barbicels when trailed across a bare forearm or unguarded nape make its owner’s skin crawl and leap with delight;
— the name of Henri Michaux’s ephemeral and paradoxical prose poem figure;
— and the glancing blow of surrealism in Breton’s famous reaction upon finding himself in the presence of beauty: “a plume of wind at the temples.”