by Martha Lyons
The sweat trickles between my shoulder blades and down my back.
It is hot as hell in this room.
Papa died two days ago.
We are all waiting in a small white clapboard church
In a small north Louisiana town
To say our final goodbyes.
The air is almost visible with humidity.
There is a sound – the whoosh of paper fans.
I catch a whiff of Shalimar.
Finally the speaking is over and it is time for the last viewing.
I leave through the front door.
I do not want to see.
The empty grave is waiting for its owner.
Martha Lyons was born and raised in Winnsboro, Louisiana, and received her BA in English from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She was halfway through a master’s degree in literature when her husband (now ex) took her away to Orange County, California. She took up writing again through classes at a junior college there and “was lucky enough to have Michelle Mitchell-Foust as my professor, and she gave me the courage to write,” says Martha. Poems like this one and another, titled “Mockingbird Summer,” which we’ll run later in the season, help her stay in touch with her Southern roots and feel closer to home.