the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Evelyn Duncan

Mildred's Funeral

Like extras in a Hitchcock film
we stand in drizzle,
chilled, holding umbrellas.
At ninety-seven she said farewell
and brought us here:
a cousin in a wheelchair,
a few children of friends
long dead, a token mourner
from the nursing home.

A Pentecostal preacher
speaks his piece.
On his overcoat
a button hangs loose.
He is fervent
about God's grace.

Damp stones and dripping trees
speak to us too. They say:
Don't be strangers.
See you soon.
Have a nice day.


Jury Duty

In the cramped room,
we hold the knife with the fancy handle,
slide our fingers along the blade's edge,
then touch the blouse
and the stained holes the knife has made.

When it's over — guilty as sin, we said —
I start my car and head for home, friends, and dinner.
I try to ignore what sits beside me,
something sly and familiar that grins a knowing grin
and does its best to catch my eye.



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