It’s Your Funeral ~ Mary Lee Bragg

It’s your funeral, we say,

            but it’s not.


Funerals are for the living.


Jannie and her brothers and sisters

packed their father’s ashes in shotgun shells

and fired them into the wilderness

west of Rocky Mountain House.


Nigel and his sisters

asked the crew for a broom

to sweep their mother’s ashes

from the deck of the Vancouver-Victoria ferry

when the wind shifted while scattering.


No one asked the ashes.

What they wanted no longer signified.


At your funeral,

we’ll stand around and say

            Too bad the old guy let it slip away.


You say you’ll go out feet first,

            and probably will—

House-proud again,

but now of rotting shingles,

            sagging steps,

            lapsed insurance

            green shag carpet.

These things you’re dying to keep.


The house sags around and with you.

Each time we visit you rehearse your funeral plans.


You’ve told us how and where

you want to be buried.

Now tell us why.