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The Wrong Funeral

By Julene Tripp Weaver

A message is left on my voice mail
the memorial will be at a different park than the friend said.
I dress in black and go to Ballard.
The moment I am in the midst of a sea of relatives
I know it is not the friend's circle, but the family circle
the mother, the stepfather
the father, the stepmother
the younger brother in tears
looks just like him
hadn't known how sick he was
hadn't seen him in time to say what he needed to say.
The mother welcomes the case manager,
she is so glad someone from her son's world is here.
Bolero plays loud across the grass
the mother publicly acknowledges the case manager.
It is too late to leave
It was the only message on my voice mail.
The other memorial
is on the other side of town somewhere
at the same time
besides, it means so much to his mother I am here.
Family keeps coming up to me
they ask questions about his last days.
I reassure them he died peacefully,
at home, with friends around-oh-I am so sorry.
They hold their tears with the tips of their fingers.
Bolero plays, his mother says Warren liked Bolero,
I wonder, I knew him as a punk rock kid.
A woman minister says a few words
she is not of any one religion,
everyone is given a red ribbon.

He only wants his friends at his funeral.
I bear witness his family cares
he had not invited them to his death.
His family plays Bolero loud across the sound
they have his ashes
the friends have pictures I never saw.

By mistake I went to the wrong funeral
the friends I hear stayed hours, told stories
got soaked in the pouring rain
were covered in mud.

Julene Tripp Weaver

Moved to Seattle in 1989 from New York, and has worked as an AIDS Case Manager the past
ten years; her body of work, "Case Walking," is dedicated to the one hundred plus clients and
friends who have died from AIDS. She has a Masters from LIOS (1992) and an undergraduate
degree in Creative Writing (1986). She studied with Audre Lorde, Joan Larkin and Louise DeSalvo
at the City University of New York.

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