REQUIEM FOR ROBERT

How many times did they reschedule your funeral?
The red granite marker took forever to carve.
Complexities:  how like you.

Too much incense, endless Litanies of Saints.
The long faithfulness, denial:
your brilliant alcoholic wife assembling puzzles in her cluttered room.

You taught me to look under library tables.
Truth is in the marginalia,
beneath the ink on the page.

The character of Abelard 
could not be understood
outside the meter of his Latin hymns.

Eight years to learn to ride a war horse.
The Reformation failed.
The Bishops all were set ablaze in good Queen Mary’s sanguine days.

That March night it snowed the worst I’ve seen it,
and the long drive from Montpelier home to Castleton
you saved us with Gilbert and Sullivan.

Soups of gray mystery meat mined from your bottomless freezer,
Easter paté en croute,
funeral bells, your raucous Alleluias.

We sang them loud for you when they bore your ashes home.
Too bad we didn’t have more time to learn.
It seems some years there’s never time.

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