Visitation for an Aunt in Holland by Alyda Faber

All the time in the world,
she said.
Enough with hurrying out the door
for doctor’s appointments, parties, trains.
No more departures.
But you, the internal fire drill
says find the exits.
She would give you some of her silence
if you could carry it.

Washed and dressed by her husband
and sons, lipstick lightly applied.
For now, she’s chilled
and taken out for family viewing.

Simple fabric trimmed with cord
lines the box where she lies
unlike the sheen pillows in North American coffins
lending a wedding party lustre to death’s transactions.
One eyelid peeks an eye,
teeth piano keys at rest.
Your clamouring ebbs in her presence.

You know you belong to sound
above the silence buried here
between hedgerows bordering neighbourly graves.
A few bees still visit sagging floral
arrangements. The horizon rips
as a stealth fighter takes off on a training run
and north of the cemetery
kennelled dogs bark in a hollow room.

And you give yourself up to departure again.
One moment
the train waits in the station,
then its ticking wheels pass the city edging the tracks
and then fields, cattle and sheep, rush by,
and you give yourself up to the speed of departure
again and again.


Alyda Faber has published poetry in Canadian and Dutch literary magazines: The Antigonish Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Ensafh. (Etc.), The Malahat Review, The Nashwaak Review, The Puritan Review, and in an anthology edited by Elizabeth Harvor.