The Loneliest Funeral Procession by Shannon Greenstein

Gray day, mist, a foreboding scene
fog rolling among evergreen;
January, or not; it’s exactly the same
To bury someone who bears no name.

I know this somehow, no reason I should,
But I know as surely as anyone could.

The Church stands stoic, centuries of oppression;
Seeping the tears of clinical depression.
The hearse is black, as black as is night;
Guards the red door, which is shut up tight.

What happened next is neither bad nor good
But I did what surely anyone would.

The door opens, the coffin appears
Death, the sum total of fears.
No pallbearers ease this gentle rest;
A lonely corpse, no friends, no guests.

No cars, no mourning, no sadness I could
detect trailing the hearse as it surely should.

It pulls from the curb, Charon’s ferry takes flight
As I sit and reflect from behind the light.
It changes, I decide, I pull out from my lane
And follow death to see what knowledge I gain.

This stranger has no one, you’d expect that he would
No coins on his eyes for a trip that is good.

Weaving through woods and highways and towns
I blindly trail without looking around.
The hearse and me, a game of tag
until we approach a waving flag.

Headstones bloom, flowers die, I know I should
leave this macabre, but there’s no way I could.

The black car and I, we enter the yard;
To make a chain from two is incredibly hard.
We see the grave, freed from ground’s repression,
The hearse and I, the loneliest funeral procession.

And as coffin is lowered and stranger descends
I feel as if I’ve lost a friend.
Two outcasts, alone, no one to grieve
Will it be just me when it’s my turn to leave?

I drive away slow, feeling very alone;
But pleased, bittersweetly, about how I’ve just grown.
Because I know now that life boils down to this:
When you’re gone, what’s important is how you’re missed.

Shannon Frost Greenstein resides in Philadelphia with her family and spoiled cats. She is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy and harbors an unhealthy interest in Hamilton, Nietzsche, Game of Thrones, and Mount Everest. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee with work that has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Scary Mommy, Crab Fat Magazine, Ghost City Review, and elsewhere. Shannon tweets under @mrsgreenstein and comes up when you Google her.

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