Processions | A poem by Rick Leddy

My great, great grandfather

Watched funeral processions

Black carriages with drawn coal-hued curtains creaking finality,
conjuring swirling, angry storm clouds
from the clear, fragile sky

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He saw them on neat, nicotine-stained country roads
that bisected summer’s sun-kissed fields

He waited as the processions appeared on frost-tinged horizons

Somber pitch-dark parades
framed by fallow burnt umber fields

A distant murder of crows beneath the flat grey dome of winter
becoming thick, dusty horses pulling death behind them

Nostrils exhaling ghosts in the chilled air

Plodding, blindered and serious

Chuffing low, tired dirges
on the way to the small graveyard on the edge of town

The dead following the cadence of the inevitable

Family and neighbors destined to be lowered
cold and alone, covered in shrouds of prayers and tears

Becoming dust under the indifferent stars

He always waited respectfully
on the side of the road

Hat doffed, looking down

Staring hard at the earth
so eager to devour the living
and spit out the bones

A reverent silhouetted scarecrow

Muttering condolences to the crop-fragranced air

Nodding his farewells

As funeral processions only he could see
passed invisible on vacant roads

Folks called it the Sight in hushed whispers

But he didn’t see it that way

Watching the smoke-clouded phantoms wisp by

As ebony bells foreshadowed the future

Carrying the burden of Knowing

Who was going to die