Today's poem is by Tiffany Midge

Funeral for a Sioux Elder

Grandma Charity said everyone wear white
to my faneral
—perhaps the dolor color
of widows is too bleak? She won't say. Blind

at ninety-eight, we don't ask, but imagine, it's clear
enough, her last request: she wants a door-
way opened to Heaven, wants the pure church-

goers noticed inside the Presbyterian church
her father founded. She wants the white
man's hymns resounding loud, wants Basil Red Door,

her preacher-father, to hear it. She wants "colorless"
devotion, for my Sioux cousins to clear
the way, for our voices to sing, oh sing, blind

but now I see. We went to task, blinded
by acres of dust, years of debris in the deserted church.
We cleaned windows and beams, cleared

cobwebs and nests; walls gleamed white
with fresh paint; the floor bleached to the color
of old bones; the pews aligned and the front doors

opened, at last. We imagined Basil Red Door
and Grandma, and all the relatives before, blinded
by the immaculate, the spick-and-span flawless color.

Were there ghosts? The graveyard's church
housed a faded world, line upon line of white
crosses, plastic flowers, relics anchoring the clear

open skies while the wind staked its own clearing
beyond the living's embrace. Think of it as a door,
someone whispered. Funeral day, sun bore down, white-

hot, merciless, and all us cousins a blinding
row of seeming snow. We gathered and filled the church
to bury her; respectful to her request, the only color

worn was white. Yet what's a day without some color,
some flaw? Ex-wife's baby in tow, Jamie Clear
Fast arrived, all whirlwind, all chaos. The church

walls seemed to buck in protest as the doors
swung open; the men, jolted into a blind
rage, Geronimo mode,jerkedjamie out to his white

pickup, blindsided him from every angle—clearly
he'd earned it. Blood colored the lot, the church
looked on, even Charity, even Basil Red Door, all in white.

Copyright © 2016 Tiffany Midge All rights reserved
from The Woman Who Married a Bear
University of New Mexico Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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