Pandemic Funeral

by Jacqueline Jules

Watching on Zoom,
I expected the somber clothes,
the tearful speeches, the widow
sitting by her children, faces hidden
behind surgical masks.

Watching it through a screen, it felt
like a grainy movie from the 1920s.
Until they lowered the casket
and lifted the shovels.

The sound of soil scooped and dropped
went on for almost an hour.

Silent mourners patiently taking turns
until the coffin disappeared
beneath a final blanket.

Are the rabbis right?
Does the departed feel loved,
tenderly tucked in by family?

From my little box, time zones away,
I watch the bearded face of the brother,
listening, like me, from his own little box,
to the echo of earth on a casket,
his eyes longing to lift a shovel
and offer his own, loving goodbye.

Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, including Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications, including Gyroscope, The Paterson Literary Review, Cider Press Review Potomac Review, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.