and we woke up in the mourning in the black sheets.
pulled back the black drapes
and looked out
side by side, tears in our eyes
at the dark sky —
black clouds smoldering over
like charcoal briquets, too cold to burn.
We took our showers in silence
(separately, naturally—out of respect)
dried off, made some black coffee and toast
and we burned it black.
We let the Black Lab out back to pee
then it was time to go to his funeral.
We walked out together to the car
but I couldn’t open the doors
let alone start the engine
because, as I told her,
I couldn’t find the keys. I’d lost them.
“Sorry for your loss,” she said.
The keys were found of course so we
drove off toward some kind of a church.
Along the way, down the street, me
driving the speed limit, both of us
respectfully, appropriately (etc. etc.) silent,
I tastefully selected “Amazing Grace” for music.
Next, I suggested “Hallelujah” for the CD player
but she opted for “Paint it Black.” She got it.
I drove gently into the church
parking lot, we tiptoed inside.
Up front a man in a black suit and all of us in a black
mood did what we were supposed to be doing in a
church like that then we all went on out to the grave.
The sky was changing. The earth was moving.
His tombstone rose out of the earth as we approached
because it’s round and then—and then!—we read it.
Under his name and the dates was the one sentence
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!
We heard something and looked up.
The sky was suddenly bright blue corduroy pants
with a silver (in the lining) zipper, WIDE WHALES
full of hungry, happy, horny fish, swimming wild and
when the sky unzipped all the way across the world:
There they were,
we saw them. In the blue bubbles.
Swimming right to us.
We saw all of the people that we had ever loved,
all the ones that still loved us (had never even stopped!)
and all the other ones who had always wanted to
but somehow couldn’t get quite close enough.
Now everything was close. But not too close,
like a grave. Or a church, God forbid.
The funeral homes and churches were converted
into cocktail lounges, Japanese restaurants,
and Deep Sea Dive Shops.
Even the Black Lab turned blue and ran off
with a school of fish because it’s never too late.