By Jerome Grossman
She moved to the lectern slowly,
Holding the bone-colored shawl
In crossed hands,
Like a shield.
The print dress, buttoned to the neck,
Black and brown and white,
In irregular pattern
The startlingly naked forehead
Ended abruptly in the precisely formed
Widow’s peak, vulnerable triangle.
The electric light cast shadows
Bruising her angled cheekbones.
She spoke slowly with the weariness of a goddess
Who has saved so many so many times –
Heavy features frozen between sentences,
Half-closed eyes focused above our heads
On a private space –
Secluded in beauty and mission.
Sometimes in preacher cadence,
Always with long, deep pauses:
“His martyrdom ensured the immortality of his spirit.”
She shrugged at the question of succession:
“We will not see his likeness again
So we must not look for it.”
We bow out ceremonially.
Our supplications unrequited,
The wall of her widowhood