Funeral: For Us His Gold
after Gerald Stern
The insect was yellow with crumpled-black banded legs
and shellacked back that would outlast us
and wistful eyes from what I could discern on that trail
and we laid him out in the open air under a sky fast-blue with
a leaf beneath his triple-belted belly so he didn’t rest on
and we placed two cloverblooms by his head and he was old
you said, could tell by how definite the stripes were, how
the patterns bold and dark, almost engraved,
and he was beautiful in that pasture of thirty-three cows and we
milk in the blaring heat and ate the cake you’d made. We
the only humans there—unholy-seeming things with two
legs, dismal histories—
drinking and eating around his elegant husk,
and from the furze, fellow insects rose, a frenzied static
around our bodies,
while he remained in situ an unremitting yellow, the color more
vivid, louder now that he was a remnant. Was color the
Yellow had alerted us to him, and we took care
with leaf and clover to make his bed.
The insect’s gold our togetherness, its death from which we fed.
Copyright © 2018 by Alessandra Lynch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.