Point of Origin: Slater’s Funeral Home

by Jay Carson

sits in a valley bottom of four hills
as if to be kind to its clients
and the horses that were their bearers.
Today’s ride is easier, but car parking
is awful. There’re still too many living.

We walked down, each of the times
one of our nine aunts died,
my brother, cousins, and I, with our Uncle Hugh
who was a great tennis player in his day
and still liked exercise—and nobody would drive,
because he was the feared black sheep drinker
his sisters shunned from their automobiles as well as houses.
We walked from my grandfather’s red brick four-bedroom,
just up the west hill and around the corner,
from Innocenti’s where you could get a pitcher of beer
and watch a movie, even after a funeral.
We saw the original 3:10 to Yuma,
much easing our loss of Alice, aunt number five,
a saint who left dinners on the porch for outcast Uncle Hugh,
for something nourishing.

I recall the time Hugh said in an amplified beer-slurred voice
so that my aunt, the Sister of Mercy, could easily hear,
It would be just too damn bad if the nuns had to walk.
And another aunt said through her wine,
He’s been drinking again.
Don’t give him any money
and keep him away from the boys.
Or the time my father, drunk, tried to punch
my mild but enviously rich Uncle Pat,
who held his liquor as well as his wallet.

I buried them all, Hugh and my brother too,
Funerals a few days after at Saint Mary’s of the Mount
where so many of them alive found solace from their losses
and I did too, when the church doors opened the wind
whipped my face to some spiritual attention
while it chapped my pall bearing hands.

What I prayed for: how to get to Slater’s
without another too quick and boozy
slide down that steep hill.
Where is the straight road
to the peaceful bier?


Category: Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing