Pop at Aunt Barbara’s Coffin

My Aunt Barbara Rose O’Connell died on Super Bowl Sunday, 2007, and there were ceremonies in Glendora, California, where she lived most of her life and outside of Chicago, where she was born and raised. My Dad could not bear looking at her corpse, as he was the last of four children of Dorothea and Glenn Nelson. My Dad died at 85 on Sunday, May 11, 2014, Mother’s Day. This photo was taken by my Cousin Dan O’Connell, son of Barbara Rose.

Paul Nelson Sr. at his sister Barbara Rose O'Connell's coffin, Feb 13, 2007

Paul Nelson Sr. at his sister Barbara Rose O’Connell’s coffin, Feb 13, 2007. Steve O’Connell and Andrew Glenn Nelson are with him.

Funeral Photo Caption

You see him there at the coffin
as the urge to shoot
manifests to document
the shades of black
and gray that dominate

around the brown
of the surroundings:
the lamps and the coffin
in which his sister lies
on which he throws a rose

its red stands out
its green stem and reflection
of his hand on the coffin
his eyes, face betray
the grief of two thirds

of our bloody century.
The one in which
he chose to live.
The one in which
he’d bury all siblings.

Nothing to live for
he’ll tell me like
I’m nothing
and my daughter
brother, sisters

other grandkids, nothing.
The picture says all,
gray is the hair we’re
left with if any and tears
will come if we’re left

holding the last rose
for Barbara Rose
or not noticing
all the things for which
we could go on.

5:22P – 2.18.07

About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB in Seattle and the Cascadia Poetry Festival. He wrote a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger.) He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets, has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois and other places & writes an American Sentence every day. www.PaulENelson.com
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One Response to Pop at Aunt Barbara’s Coffin

  1. alison says:

    What the Camera Saw

    . . . reflection
    of his hand
    on the coffin,
    as if inside,
    his sister tried
    to reach him,
    one last time
    as Big Sister,
    to ease his pain

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