My mother finds it hard, she says.
An old friend died, and there can’t be
Long lines of people at a wake
Talking earnestly or smiling
As they tell a family stories
About the life as they perceived it.
No old routines and rituals,
No slow shuffle of mourners
Onto benches to sit in silence
Until the service ends and turns
The procession back on itself
To follow the coffin to the hearse.
Harder for the family, she says,
The quiet leave-takings of these times.
The gatherings afterwards are gone
Where food and reminiscence once began
To fill holes left by missing time
And laughter slowly grew again.
A lot of phone calls today, she says.
They talked it out, she and her friends,
As best they could each in their homes,
I suppose—I had never thought,
Before this moment, of the cell phone
As an instrument of consolation.
But she and her friends who saw the war,
As children, that split the atom,
And bore children as the moon was claimed,
Who’ve seen all that makes us human
In our herds and our isolations,
Continue adapting to circumstance.