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October 2013, vol 9, no 3

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Doug Norris

Blackberry Winter

The cemetery appears out of a thick gray mist that conceals a hillside farm in the red clay of the East Tennessee knobs. A black steer grazes in the drizzle, chewing on wet grass. We walk to the green tent covering the burial site, settling into portable chairs, surrounded by ropes and canvas lurching wildly at their restraints. His coffin, draped in the American flag. The preacher, holding a Tennessee Volunteers umbrella. A veteran folds the flag and salutes with trembling hands. Gusts howl. Rain pelts. The preacher's breath curling out in short, steady clouds, like pipe smoke.

granddad's funeral
rain on orange umbrellas
louder than words