Sunday, August 16, 2009

Strong Views

Strong Views

On the narrow road rising steeply
to Sierra City's cemetery, a wry
sign notes, "Not A Through Street."
We set the headstone of a dead aunt
next to a rock wall her brother
built. We place beneath the concrete

a full bottle of whiskey, a
horseshoe, a deer antler, and
a piece of rose quartz. Otherwise,
the aunt's not represented here
except in our memories. Her
ashes travel up by an alpine
lake somewhere. The family's
idiosyncratic, you might say,

and tardy, even haphazard, with
its burial rituals. In fact, there
are no rituals, no funerals or
formalities. People get together
eventually, share some laughs
and glum grief, eat, and drink.

A panting black dog lies
in the truck watching us lay
the headstone. Later, the aunt's
remaining brothers will visit
the stone in the shade, have
a look, say a total of, oh,
seven words, maybe. For now,

we kid around in the cemetery,
get the job done, nobody's
business but our own. Goodbye
to Aunt Nevada. The smooth blue
stone, saved from an arastra,
gives the pertinent dates, her
other last name, and a nickname--
then mentions, "Strong Views."

Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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