After, at the Kitchen Table

by Keli Osborn

On the fourth day

     (after the handshakes and half-hugs,

           the sitting and greeting and sitting

     after introductions to a cousin called Brother, a brother

          named Lost Uncle

     after music

     after the blues of visitation: her last gown’s sheen,

          melting snow through a solitary window

     after the vigil

     after the sealed casket and funeral Mass,

           expressway to Calvary

     after weeping or scorning the weeping

     after dirt

     after the slow, silent ride

     after returning to casseroles and stale cookies),

differing stories spilled from identical mouths—

the oldest:

      I found her housekeeping smocks

      in the hallway closet.  Ruined her knees,

      but she loved that job.

then the next:

     What are you talking about, she hated

      every minute.

Their arguments spun until someone mentioned

the last service,

same cemetery, same ride back:

      Remember when he came home stinking drunk

      and she chased him with a knife round the kitchen?

After half-laughter,

the youngest looked into his hands:

     You guys don’t even know.

     You left, you left me behind.

Keli Osborn lives with her family in Eugene, Oregon, where she works with community organizations and coordinates a public reading series for poets, novelists, memoirists and other writers.  Her poems appear in The Timberline Review, KYSO Flash and the anthologies, “All We Can Hold” and “Dona Nobis Pacem.” When it comes to finales, Keli has foregone the Bucket List for a Chuck It List.