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Danny Boy: My Father’s Funeral


The casket is open
during the wake’s first

hour for "private family
viewing." Bill, the funeral

director, tries to take my
hand. Don’t make her,

my sister says. I have
been in the bathroom,

puking. When the casket
is shut, I am a dutiful

daughter, stand five hours
saying, Thanks for coming

to the blur of faces stretched out
the door and down

the sidewalk. All night
we eat nothing but

orchids and lilies. My mother
cannot cry. Bill brings us

aspirin, keeps our water
cups full and tapes of Irish

ballads rolling. I barely hear
my brother: "The pipes,

the pipes are calling..."
He knows the words?

I’ve never heard him sing.
I hate this song, he says.

 

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