Looking Out the Rear Window

The funeral rite concluded
With the pastor shaking hands,
Offering words of comfort
I didn't quite understand.

The undertakers came forth
And summoned pallbearers' four.
They marched beside the coffin
Carrying it steady toward the door.

I didn't cry or whimper
As I followed right behind.
But deep within I screamed
Don't leave O Mother of mine.

Please don't go to the grave;
Let's chat just one more time.
Let's talk about the 'good old days'
Don't leave, O Mother of mine."

But onward moved the casket
Down the stairs to the limousine;
With Mother laying incognizant
Of my agonizing scream.

As we rode toward the ossuary
Thoughts were swimming in my head;
Why didn't the whole world stop?
Didn't it know my Mother was dead?

But the world kept 'bout its business
And within I felt so sad,
'Cause my Mother didn't get the honor
I thought she should have had.

As we drove into the cemetery
I knew it wouldn't be long,
Before I had to sing at last
My final farewell song.

I stood at the gravesite
Grief festering in my breast:
Scriptures read, prayers prayed,
Mother committed to eternal rest.

Looking out the car's rear window
As we mutely drove away;
I saw a heavenly angel fly
To where my Mother lay.

Then I knew that all was well,
That Mother was just fine.
That I would live and grow and serve
Until, alas, my time.

Thank you Lord for reassuring me
That the grave is not the end.
That Mother is patiently waiting for me
Just around life's toilsome bend.

But now there's work I must perform
That no one else can do;
Some hurting, aching souls to soothe,
Broken dreams to help renew.

And in the process of reaching out
To brighten someone's day;
I sense way deep within myself,
That I too will be okay.

Saundra L. Washington is the author of two coffee table books: "Negative Disturbances, Homilies that Teach," and the book from which this poem is taken, "Room Beneath the Snow, Poems that Preach." Looking out the Rear Window was written shortly following her mother's death. She can be contacted at: http://www.clergyservices4u.org

In The News:

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Washington Post

The 5 best poetry collections of 2018
Washington Post
Erdrich, an Ojibwe poet and scholar, chose 21 poets who have published books since 2000. Some — including Layli Long Soldier and Tommy Pico — have earned critical acclaim for their shrewd, distinctive work that fearlessly explores their relationship ...


The Slovak Spectator

Bratislava gets a taste of international poetry
The Slovak Spectator
The festival, which takes place between November 13 and 23 (with the core programme condensed between November 15-17) at various sites in Bratislava, will host poets and performing artists from Slovakia, its neighbouring countries, and also from the ...


Webster University Newsroom (press release) (blog)

Arcade Gallery Presents 'Freedom: The American Hustle, The Poetry Series' Nov. 17
Webster University Newsroom (press release) (blog)
The voices of several female poets reflect on the cultural perspectives and concept of freedom of the time. It is also a great time to spend time in the Gallery's exhibition, "Freedom: The American Hustle," now open through Dec. 8, and undeniably ...


Second AAA Poetry Workshop
Wellsville Daily Reporter
WELLSVILLE — The second of a series of Poetry Workshops sponsored by the Allegany Arts Association will take place 10 a.m. Saturday at the David A. Howe Library. At Saturday's workshop Alfred University professor and poet Heather Yanda will share and ...


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

US poet laureate to appear Thursday at Carnegie Music Hall
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tracy K. Smith is the Poet Laureate of the United States — PLOTUS for short. In Washington D.C., her official title is “poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.” Ms. Smith, who was appointed in spring 2017, is not interested in ...


Alton Telegraph

Book World: The five best poetry collections of 2018
Alton Telegraph
Erdrich, an Ojibwe poet and scholar, chose 21 poets who have published books since 2000. Some - including Layli Long Soldier and Tommy Pico - have earned critical acclaim for their shrewd, distinctive work that fearlessly explores their relationship to ...

and more »

Independent Online

WATCH: SA came second at the Africa Cup of Slam Poetry in Chad
Independent Online
Congratulations to South African National Slam Champion, Thuthukani Myeza, who has been chosen to represent South Africa at the Africa Cup of Slam Poetry in Chad. The ACSP brings together artists from 34 countries in Africa to promote a united Africa ...


Voice Tribune

Poets, Rock Stars, and Holy Men
Voice Tribune
The common thread for all is poetry. A new exhibit opening Nov. 17, at the Louisville Main Library, “Poets, Rock Stars, and Holy Men: A Literary Renaissance,” features more than 25 original poetry broadsides – many signed by the artists – from the ...


East Oregonian

First Draft welcomes Oregon's poet laureate
East Oregonian
A poet and essayist, Kim Stafford is the founding director of The Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, where he has taught since 1979. Stafford comes by writing naturally — he is the son of William Stafford, Oregon's poet laureate ...
Writers' series welcomes Oregon's poet laureateHermiston Herald
Kim Stafford speaks in The Dalles Wednesday nightDalles Chronicle

all 3 news articles »

Columbia Chronicle

Alumna explores belonging, 'otherness' through poetry
Columbia Chronicle
An award-winning poet and editor, Geter is exploring what it feels like to be “other” in America in her in-the-works poetry collection. She writes against a political backdrop concerning issues such as immigration and inequalities for those in America ...

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