Coffin in the Courtyard

Coffin in the Courtyard

by Chris Biles

There is a coffin in the courtyard,
sitting on a plain wooden table.
The sun sets on it, dusk transforms
shadows, colors recede, night.

They bring candles, the body
has nothing to fear. They light
a fire, frozen flesh will be warm.
There is a coffin in the courtyard,
plain, wooden, not yet nailed shut.

They brought it on the back
of a motorcycle, wide load, held
by crudely-cut rubber rope.
Candles throw shadows across
the surface, un-sanded lumber,
splinters awaiting a fleshy home.

They cover it with colorful cloth,
words for God printed, part
of the patterns, colors made dark
by the night, made darker by
the contrast of the candles,
the fire throwing shadows where
too many shadows already exist.

There is a coffin in the courtyard.
It will be buried tomorrow,
accompanied by wailing women,
collapsing women, strong men,
lying men. It will be carried
to some spot in the middle
of some field where the crops
have been torn away, a hole
dug deep, dirt in a towering pile,
awaiting to fall back, to cover
the coffin, to deliver the creatures
capable of returning lost life
to the living earth.

There is a coffin in the courtyard,
soon it will merge, soon that body
will find another heart beat,
will have its thirst quenched
by the rains, will be able to nurture
again, hug the roots, feed the plants
that will flourish.

Soon you will feel the pulse of the dead
beneath your feet, the pulse of the dead
returned to life. So long as your toes
can feel the earth between them,
that beating heart will be with you,
the life of the dead will be with you.