Rain taps on the roof like quiet hands.
So much softer than clods thudding
on a plain pine box.
Once everyone is gone
they take away the green tent
open on all sides, the worst chuppah.
The words wash away, but
I'll never forget
who rolled up his sleeves to finish shoveling.
In Jewish tradition, everyone present at an interment shovels some earth onto the casket. It is considered one of the last acts of lovingkindness we can do for the person who has died.
I do remember, very clearly, who picked the shovel back up and helped us truly finish burying my parents after everyone else had taken a ceremonial turn. I wonder whether every funeral I conduct from now on will always bring those memories to mind.