and nobody asks if I’m willing and they put me in charge of picking the casket and part of me is sure my father's voice booms a message take your brother and that’s crazy talk which is what they say happens and at the last minute I give my brother the nod and it’s the two of us on a mission and the dipso Florida sun looks hung over in mourning for one of its own and Christmas trees line the highway in bold pink ferocity and my brother is dressed for upstate that old Donegal tweed and the old man not even dead a day and already Mother putting aside the green wool Burberry and nobody asks what I’d like and my brother pulls my arm into the funeral home and it hurts like when he said it’s only a game and twisted waiting for me to cry and I never did and all the while Father sitting with his newspaper folded in thirds and my brother whispering say Uncle say Uncle say Uncle and Father stands and reaches for his pipe the scent of cherry tobacco filling the room and I say Daddy did you see what and he shakes his head and walks out and my brother stands by the ugly mahogany one and says this one looks good and as he heralds his choice a long line of caskets some open some closed silently cheer him on and my hands clasp tightly behind my back and my brother tugs my arm and pulls me closer and my arm hurts like always and I breathe in Donegal tweed and the scent of cherry tobacco hovers a double halo over our heads and my brother whispers I’m sorry about and the undertaker clears his throat and my brother says whatever my sister wants and just like that the pain in my arm is gone.
Roberta Beary has work in The New York Times, Atticus Review, Litro, New Flash Fiction Review, and the Best Small Fictions 2020, and Best Microfiction 2019/2021 anthologies. The longtime haibun editor at Modern Haiku, she recently collaborated on One Breath: The Reluctant Engagement Project, which pairs her writing with artwork by families of people with disabilities. Carousel, her most recent poetry collection, won the Snapshot Press UK book award contest. She lives in the west of Ireland.
The Ekphrastic Review
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