Sean Nevin

Fainting at my Grandfather’s Funeral

I lost my fear of dying
when I slammed my hand
in the passenger-side door
of my father’s ’61
Cadillac Coupe DeVille
as we waited
for a parking attendant
outside M’s Funeral Home.
It was religious, the way
pain shook my hand, hard
and electric, straight through
the bone in my shoulder,
like the funeral director
in his cheap suit, assuring me
with a man’s grip and a wink
that it was alright, that
he was sorry for my loss.
But nothing was alright
and I was not a man,
but a fifteen-year-old boy
who listened to his father
sob quietly all night
through the plaster walls.
And the only thing
I could be sure of
was that I was dying
when the heavy door
swung shut,
and what seemed
like a procession
of translucent moths
flew from my ears
and fluttered against
my burning face.
The entire natural world
transformed itself,
became a silver well shaft,
a disarticulation
of synapse and light
like the crown chakra’s
white lotus,
whose petals
began to blossom,
then sparked,
then fell away, until
there was nothing
left of the body
but the ecstatic vision
of the moon-faced valet
gliding toward me,
his tattooed arms extending
right out of their sleeves,
like the two budding wings
of an angel.

Sean Nevin
“Fainting at my Grandfather’s Funeral” is from Oblivio Gate (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008).