The Funeral

Felicity Sheehy

What we learned the day of the servicewas that the reception had been movedout of the church galley down the hallto the third-grade classroom, decoratedwith cut-out Christs and handprint turkeys,a motto hung over the door: Be Good.The priest showed us the way, sweatingand swinging his bad leg, explainingwe'd thank him later for the air conditioning.Inside, the desks were shoved to one wall,and a fold-out table perched its legsby the blackboard. We arranged the picturesat the front of the room, where they lookedfrom their June barbecues and Florida vacationsat the concrete out the window, gently steaming.Back in the church, the fans were runningso loudly we couldn't hear ourselvesand the readings evaporated in the rafters,where the only things listening were the facesof window saints. Towards the end, the priestmade a joke about the coolness of heaven.We followed him back to the classroom,which now held an array of danishesand cardboard boxes of coffee ("Half-offfrom TOPS," he said). I drank cup after cupof decaf, lightening and lighteningand lightening them with cream, watchingthe silent pictures watching us. How little wehad in common. Their whole world had ended,while somewhere ours continued, past the flatvoices and the shuffle around the room, pastthe borders of this town, where the fields fillwith the flashlights of so many peoplelooking for each other, flooding the skieshere, floors and floors beneath the stars.

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Felicity Sheehy’s chapbook Losing the Farm won the Munster Literature Centre’s international chapbook prize. Her poems have appeared in The New Republic, The Yale Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Narrative, The Adroit Journal, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She has received an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Jane Martin Prize, and scholarships from Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Community of Writers. She has received additional prizes and support from Narrative, the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, the York Poetry Prize, and the Ledbury Poetry Festival, among others.

Cover of Losing the Farm


Munster Literature Centre

"Felicity Sheehy brings revelations of nature and the warmth of humanity into these compelling poems. Whether it’s waiting for the arrival of the Perseids, marvelling at ’sun-drunk’ daffodils or a ’sway-backed stallion', or savouring memories of childhood and her family, Sheehy turns her lines with the sharp edge of a plough, revealing countless gleams in the rich soil."
—James Harpur

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