Neckties – a poem

I began this poem more than a decade ago and have revised it several times since, including an earlier version I posted here a few years ago. This is the latest.


Back home after many years,
I walk up to an open grave
in a red dirt cemetery
where a scraggle of kinfolk
huddle against a cold prairie wind
sharp-edged as a Baptist sermon.

My father is there, of course,
wearing his ancient suit
somehow now too large,
his old clip-on necktie
an afterthought
on his sagging collar.
He sees me, nods, then looks away
Leaning on my mother’s arm,
he holds the funeral program
like a bus ticket to somewhere
he doesn’t want to go.

Now older than he was then
I think often of that season of his dying,
of more trips home,
of our difficult conversations
with Death sitting in the corner listening.
And of my last duty as his son,
to bury him—in a new necktie.

2 thoughts on “Neckties – a poem”

    • Thanks, Diana.

      I agree. Having been a hospice patient volunteer for 25 years, I saw many versions of dying. I hope I learned the lessons from that time.


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