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Green at a Funeral
You once asked me, “What color is death?”
I didn’t have an answer then
(you caught me off guard),
but I do now.
Death can be both every color,
and no color at all.
That young woman will say it’s black—
as black as the piano that her lover used to play
(she still remembers his slender fingers, dancing along the keys).
As black as the fear she felt
when she realized that she was all alone,
and the ivory keys no longer sang
delicate melodies at her request.
That lonely old man, he’ll say it’s white—
as white as the light he longed to see,
as the happiness he would feel at reuniting
with those who had left him far too early.
That young child may say it’s brown—
as brown as the dirt in which she buried her dog,
the greatest tragedy that she had ever known
(I wish I could keep it that way,
protect her from life itself).
That grieving mother will say it’s red—
as red as the blood of her son;
the blood that they had spilled
because of the color of his skin.
As red as the anger that raged within her,
for the injustice of his murder.
Death is black, white, brown, and red—
those you must’ve heard.
But I disagree— I say it’s green;
the brightest green of them all.
The green that I wore to my father’s funeral
when I stood out from the black of mourning and white of safety
(I proudly wore the shirt;
it said, “daddy’s little girl”).
The color that had people giving me looks,
their eyes filled with pity.
That is what death is to me:
the answer to the question of the color of death
doesn’t lie in the tortured colors of blacks and reds,
nor the purest color of white.
No, it lies in the green—
in the viridity of a child
wearing green at a funeral.