Waiting for Class to Get Out

When I think about the day of my father’s funeral

I’m reminded of the poetry reading I gave in grad school,

and how it seemed so unreal to me that so many talented writers

would want to hear what I have to say about me,

the world seemed to stop moving, the birds seemed to stop singing,

and everybody seemed to stop breathing, I mean I could have been

talking to popsicle stick headstones in a Play-Doh cemetery encased

under a dome of saran wrap. I was painting myself.

Standing up there at the podium and reading his eulogy

to countless teachers and administrators he’d worked with

during his career as a principal,

I must have looked like an educational consultant giving a presentation,

in my tie I bought at the thrift store just hours before, for a buck.

the speed-ramped scene stuffy and metallic and white and black

like my parent’s wedding party,

where my brother and I snapped their ring boxes at each other

like they were miniature felt-lined Pac-Man,

the family drama still playing larger than life, cue the drone camera

to sweep right from the tables and accelerate over the golf course,

everybody seated, everybody so still and serious, fade out over the

heavenly lake and, cut. There’s nothing new about wanting a nice view

to say everything.

Which is why back in the funeral home, the reverend who gave the sermon

was surprised when I raised my hand, and reminded him I had

a few words to say, and could I have his pulpit for a minute.

We enthusiastically traded seats like we were kids playing “Simon Says”

in class, as I thought to myself look at how we’re all getting along,

look at how we’re all working together to pass the time as pleasantly

as we can, we could be waiting for class to get out.

Author: Chris Russell

Chris Russell holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Concord, New Hampshire where he follows two paths: a calling as a poet, and an altruistic vocation as an education support professional.