Across the pond, an owl calls.
Summoned by the piper
We begin to gather on the bank.
The silence is broken
By the thumping of the oarlocks
As his two sons row out
To the center of the still water.
The minister speaks words of comfort
And the wife, too young to be a widow,
Sits with his parents and his brothers
To watch the solemn young men in the boat
Lower onto the silken surface
The small reed vessel in which
The ashes of their father lie.
We hold our lighted candles and our breaths
As they ignite this Viking symbol
To carry his mortal being away from this world
And leave his spirit with us forever.
We watch the little pyre boat
Move slowly across the pond
While the piper plays the song
That so defines our fallen warrior.
The flames go out and the little bundle of reeds
Sinks into the now dark water.
The owl does not call again,
And from us are only the sounds of sighs and sorrow.
Soon, up on the hill
Another fire blooms, and we
Gather there to tell each other stories.
All we favorite aunts, uncles, and cousins
Claim our parts in his life.
(We all insist we are his favorite, as he is ours.)
Old and new friends, colleagues, his beloved fraternity brothers,,
Neighbors, make us laugh with stories of him
That had made them laugh when he was with them.
Their stories are as warm as the bonfire
Which dims now with the
Rising of the brilliant full moon.
One favorite cousin says that
He expects a new star to shoot across the sky tonight.
We embrace each other
And leave this special place, for now.