A winter afternoon.

The tape recorder hums.

What does she remember?

Mom says not much, dismisses her childhood

with a couple of lines about walking to school in snow,

getting in trouble for spending her church money

at the candy store.

                              And nothing else?

‘Oh, it isn’t much—’

Meaning, ‘It isn’t what you asked.’

It wasn’t something we’d have known

how to ask.

Age seven, she was. She saw the name

in the paper, a neighbour—no,

that’s the wrong word for someone thought of

as the woman who gives cookies, down the block.

Mom had got cookies from her just the day before she died.

What a spooky thought!

                   Mrs What’s\-Her\-Face

was lying upstairs in the funeral parlour,

getting made up. This Saturday afternoon,

the paper said.

         Mom asked at supper,

Could just anybody go to a funeral?

Did they charge anything, take a collection?

Did you have to bring flowers?

No one suspected.

And at the funeral no one noticed—

busy as they were with their own—

that unconnected kid who was on her best behaviour,

didn’t cry or crack a smile, just stared,

her curiosity too big for what it saw.

It wasn’t hard

doing the right thing at a funeral.

Only someone must have seen her, after all,

for at supper, Grandma or Grandpa said:

‘So you went to Mrs So-and-So’s funeral?’

No one said another word, not even to ask,

How was it? (Fine, she’d have said.)

They just looked at her,

almost like it was funny,

but not quite. Like they were surprised,

just a little. Like they didn’t know

what they should think.

‘Oh, I was pleased with myself,’ says Mom.

‘I knew I was the only kid in town

who’d been to a funeral by herself.’

We see in her eyes—looking

as her parents must have looked at her that evening—

that she misses how she was in those days, wishes

whatever funeral comes next could be her first,

and she there, tearless, small, and alone.