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Wednesday, October 07, 2020


by Sandra Anfang

We were waist deep in the big muddy
and the big fool said to push on. 

A man I used to know
who knew a man I used to know
told me a story about
the old man’s funeral.
How they propped him up
in his single bed like a child’s
dressed him in his favorite
cowboy shirt, hat, & boots.
How their feet carved circles
in the small front room
of his cabin, how they passed 
around the punch, dished up
the casseroles, poured the wine.
All the while, he lay in his bed
in the corner, where it had been wheeled
watching them enjoy the feast.
He didn’t miss a beat.
He looked great—alive as you or me
said the man I used to know.
Maybe a little ashen.
“They propped the dead man up”
cycles through my brain
like a country refrain.
If they hadn’t heard the story
of how his Kawasaki overshot
the freeway bridge, a suspected 
heart attack the cause
you might have thought he was
enjoying an afternoon nap.
This scenario would not
be hard to replicate:
(an old man waving from
the window of an SUV; 
the steel-spiked wall of his dissembling).
During the parsing of the meatloaf
the news, the deviled eggs
they propped the dead man up 
and life continued
more or less
as it had before.

Sandra Anfang is an award-winning poet, poetry teacher, and editor. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including San Francisco Peace and Hope, West Trestle Review, Spillway, and Rattle. Her two chapbooks, Looking Glass Heart and Road Worrier, were published by Finishing Line Press in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Xylem Highway, a full-length collection, was published by Main Street Rag in 2019. Sandra teaches with California Poets in the Schools and hosts Rivertown Poets, a monthly reading series, in Petaluma, California. She is spending her sheltering-in-place days writing poetry and haiku, taking long walks, and texting for to defeat t***p.