A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2006, vol 2 no 4

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Richard Straw

Before the Funeral

Before the funeral, I wash mom's old low-mileage sedan at a do-it-yourself car wash, trying not to get my black shoes, suit, and tie wet. The sun is blinding bright. All the leaves are in except for a few trees that are still pollinating. To dry the car before picking up mom and a nursing aide at the nursing center, I drive down to dad's old factory on David's Street where he and his brother first worked together as welders. It's a large brick structure, two football fields long and a football field wide. Cathedral-like windows start halfway up the length of the walls on both sides. Their factory's old shop equipment was sold or relocated to Texas years ago, but the 19th century brick building is still here. A local businessman rents part of it and has left the high doors open at one end to bring in some parts to store. I walk in unobserved and immediately feel a strong cross-breeze that pushes me back on my heels. I wonder whether my dad and my uncle felt similar breezes when they worked here. The tracks for the overhead cranes are still in place, and above them dust motes whirl in the streams of sunlight.

dad's funeral
using the handicapped space
for the lead car