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Music at My Mother's Funeral

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During the weeks when we all believed my mother
was likely to die she began to plan
her funeral and she wanted us, her children,
to consider the music we would play there. We remembered
the soundtrack of my mother’s life: the years when she swept
the floors to the tunes of an eight track cassette called Feelings,
the Christmas when she bought a Bing Crosby album
about a Bright Hawaiian Christmas Day. She got Stravinsky’s
Rite of Spring stuck in the tape deck of her car and for months
each errand was accompanied by some kind
of dramatic movement. After my brother was born,
there was a period during which she wore a muumuu
and devoted herself to King Sunny Ade and his
African beats. She ironed and wept to Evita, painted
to Italian opera. Then, older and heavier, she refused
to fasten her seatbelt and there was the music
of an automated bell going off every few minutes,
which annoyed the rest of us but did not seem to matter
to my mother who ignored its relentless disapproval,
its insistence that someone was unsafe.

Poem copyright ©2013 by the Alaska Quarterly Review. Faith Shearin’s most recent book of poems is Moving the Piano, Stephen F. Austin Univ. Press, 2011. Poem reprinted from the Alaska Quarterly Review, Vol. 30, No. 3 & 4, by permission of Faith Shearin and the publisher.
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Music at My Mother's Funeral

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  • Faith Shearin is the author of five books of poetry: The Owl Question, The Empty House, Moving the Piano, Telling the Bees, and Orpheus Turning. Recent work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review and Poetry East, and has been read aloud by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac. She is the recipient of awards from The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work also appears in The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary Poets and Good Poems, American Places. She lives in West Virginia.

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