If Gina Were a Viking

Michael Coffey
For Gina's family and friends
Memorial service
August 22, 2009
In a village of sod houses
Smoke riffling skyward from morning fires,
A ram's horn sounds the ancient wail,
A call to the tribe to gather,
For the tribal elder has fallen.
A generation inscribed in tribal lore and family legend
Has reached its end.
The care of the family heraldry on shields and armor
And in stories told by flickering flames of family fires,
Passes now, that branch of the family tree
Placed mindfully on the pyre of grief,
Ashes into ashes, dust into dust.

Her boat is secured, anchored to the shore
By memories, made fresh now
In the time of transition.
Loyal sons pack the vessel,
Heeding counsel of generations of offspring
Gathered to witness her journey.

... utensils from the cooking fire ...

	The spatula that flipped pancakes straight to the bellies of children three generations deep;
	A saucepan rich with the patina of a thousand gravies,
	Red eye, to country sausage, made for spooning over biscuits warm from the oven;
	A recipe box filled with a hundred blessings heaped on those she loved and fed with joy;
	A cast iron skillet, blessed by her own mother that holds the family secret for the perfect fried chicken.

... and objects of joy and blessing ...

	A Siamese cat with a crooked tail,
	Perhaps a bug-eyed Boston terrier masquerading as a rabbit;
	A TV Guide, a book of crosswords, her favorite apron;
	A wedding ring well worn;
	And a hundred photographs of a thousand memories packed in neatly around her.

And, as the sun sets, we (the village) gather 'round
And mindfully reach our hands
To the stern and gunwales of her boat.
And gently, in the unified breath
Of a community setting her finally free,
We push her boat into the sea
Of time
Headed yonder to the horizon,
Trusting that out there, beyond the sunset,
Lies another shore, and another sunrise.