Amanda Stovicek

Dad’s Grief Caravan

We ride hot air in black balloons. The casket hangs
below us—chicken in a butcher’s window, swaying
like a pendulum. The balloons’ burners sputter
flames interrupting the pastor’s elegy, sweat blooms

on his brow. In one hand the book, the other
a yellow megaphone crackling verses for us, 

black-clad mourners and blue-coverall’ed pilots.
The baskets wobble on the wind, air currents rumbling

in whale-speak—we crest the treelines like waves.
Oak and elm, rippling green oceans of arms—

reach for us. Our caravan of black balloons.
We hold purple hydrangeas in our mouths

and wear dark sunglasses to cover how gray we really are.
The pilots have taped their smiles down—

cellophane strain. Who travels this way anymore?
Not the dead. 

We had to read the will three times
before we picked up the phone to call for this circus.

Amanda Stovicek is a poet and teaching artist from Northeast Ohio. She has an MFA in poetry from the NEOMFA Program. Her work has appeared in The Birds We Piled Loosely45th ParallelThe Bookends Review, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @amae099.