We don’t bid our dead Godspeed to the afterlife
the way we did, in churches, where weeping echoes
off walls or gets absorbed by pipe organ blasts,
while incense spirals from an acolyte’s censer,
and the minister intones his woeful sound.
After we lowered our dearly departed into the ground,
back at the church hall there would be baked ham,
casseroles, and pies, supplied by neighbors and aunts.
Today, in function rooms, where event planners
have laid out aromatherapy diffusers and flowers,
we get right on with the afterparty and mingle,
nibbling fruit, veggies, and tiramisu, while a playlist,
synced to a slideshow, loops in the background.
– Conlin Read
I enclosed this poem in a letter to Don following his swan song at UNH in Nov. 2017; in his reply, he devoted an entire paragraph to his assessment of it:
“I like Afterparty.”