A retired psychotherapist/professor, poet and Pittsburgher, Diane Rudov authored Crazy Quilt of Loss & Love (2020). Her poetry won an award at The Chautauqua Institution, and appears in Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Temple Sinai Neshama Center for Jewish Spirituality, and Women of Reform Judaism collections.
Tucking in Aunt Belle
I avoid seeing the shovel near my aunt’s grave.
The rabbi says we mourners
will carpet her coffin with earth,
an unrepayable act of loving kindness.
I tune out until “we are tucking Belle in.”
It makes me reconsider my prior
reluctance of sharing in the ritual.
I had dreaded the harsh sounds,
cringed with each thudding of dirt laced
with stones as it dropped onto the pine box.
I downplayed how the act helps us to heal.
Today I struggle, knowing I should do my part,
but again lack the courage to perform
this painful parting sacrament.
I even try to convince myself that perhaps
I am being brave to breach a norm.
Yet I know my grief will be tainted with shame.
Finally, the earth is becoming layered enough
to blunt the distressing thumps.
A cousin transforms the rhythm by gently
strewing, almost feathering, dirt onto the mound.
I mutely thank her, grateful my mother’s
best friend is being tucked in just right.