Ours being a large family
aunts and uncles have been dying
unsettlingly regularly for years.
I have come to know how funerals work.
The suppressed warmth when greeting
those we only see on these occasions;
the priest who must act
as if she had known the deceased;
then my favourite part: the life story
always with one surprising twist,
some previously unknown biographical morsel.
(This is usually followed by tears
as I understand that all the rest must now be lost.)
Later, outside, we file past the fresh grave.
I scan the wreaths for the one
which invariably brings more tears.
The one which the German cousins bring:
more sombre than ours, bearing the legend
that is the most striking memento mori
I have ever known.
Gold letters on mauve or black: