Nov 152012

by April Salzano




It is on the coldest day of the year that I consider

the angles of six sets of shoulders, various degrees

of grief and pain and loss, that I contemplate the juxtaposition

of six shades of hair color ranging from Autumn red to silver and sienna,

the topcoats over black suits, the ties knotted at alternating lengths,

blowing like wind chimes beside your father’s casket. Sons

and grandsons line either side in ornamental obligation. I feel certain

it is you who bears the weight most fully. The question

was not if you would be a pallbearer, but if the other five

were really necessary. Rhetorical more than symbolic. I have

watched you hoist riding lawnmowers and large appliances as if

their weight meant nothing. Somewhere dormant

lay the forethought of this moment, the inevitable trumpeting

of Taps at times temporarily silenced. I forget your strength

until you search the pews for my eyes, until I see

your almost paternal concern for my safety. In spite of myself,

I keep looking at you like an emergency

that never materializes. Yours are the shoulders that remain

most rectangular, the strongest straightest of angles, on which

every other griever’s gaze inadvertently takes pause,

beneath which a heart waits patiently for the right time

to finish its breaking. This is not it. For now

a task is at hand and it will be completed

with your usual silent efficiency and relentless strength, the gift

you are giving back to your father. If necessary,

you would have found a way to carry him yourself. Without effort,

one man who will not confuse weakness with fatigue

carries another, just as this becomes the image I will keep of this day.