Morning Vigil

(for W. J. E.)

sharon hope fabriz
2 min readFeb 8, 2024
hand-painted cardboard burial box, photo used with permission

We stepped like nuns into the room

where time had unleashed her beloved seven days before.

Between us, an altar of beeswax tapers lit and crackling,

cedar branches, a heart-shaped bowl cupping the same anointing oil

she had touched onto his eyes and his lips and his temples after she cleaned him,

dressed him in a bold blue t-shirt, his favorite shorts, his still-soiled apron,

the cook in him alive in the splashes of chili,

the smears of sauces, the blurs of butter.

In the glow near our cushions was the corner, now bedless,

where his body had lain, his warrior wife gazing

at the hard absence of form.

She reached for the singing bowl, brought it to life,

the hum lifting like a spirit from the meeting of metal and friction.

We sat still and speechless in the silent span

until the church bells nearby sounded the holy hour,

the heavy gongs of goodbye,

and our breath stopped,

patient for the passing of six a.m.,

when exhales came as cryptic as death

and we inhaled memories of him.

hand-painted cardboard burial box, photo used by permission