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The Mystery of Richard Bruce


I think it’s Saturday

The twenty-eighth


I don’t

Really have to know

The sun is bright

Through filmy



And on the dusty

Hardwood floor

(I can take

care of that)

And, well, he’s gone

Meeting God so closely

In ways we only


And how much we do imagine

Is in the books

How much we want

To know

He was suffering

That’s over

I’m glad for that

Though catharsis should not be

The main reward

They know what to do

The professionals

My sister says

They’re really good people

Plus they know their jobs

The government

Has funded a good deal

Of everything that’s happened

Our tax dollars working

Is there one administration

Or another

To approve?

The family,

We talk with each other

And our friends

There won’t be a service

He made that clear

He approved a wake

An experience of drinking

And appreciation

Since we tend to be

Micks and Scots

And even if we weren’t

This gathering appeals

My sister

And her crew

(my brother-in-law and


Had done so much already

The burden for

Being there

I guess I can relate

There was a lease

Apartment filled with furniture

A car

All the bureaucracy

That places our lives

In containment

Then the boxes must be emptied

When it’s time

There should be more

There must be more

There is

There is an end to pain

And remembrance

That’s on us

I’m trying to recall

His sense of humor

It will return

His last days might have

Been sullen

Save for staff

And asserting to my sister

He did not want

To be there

Though there was too much

To do

To allow for decent care

Anywhere else

Too much immobility

Too much medication

There are degrees

I understand

I made such decisions years ago

And do not like it

When there should be more


We’re down

To four now

In the immediacy

Of things

The math is weird

The hole

It feels substantial

Holes should have no feelings

Gaps are an absence,

After all

My feelings are dry and sad

Like edging on a desert

Upon waking

Or simply turning around

I want to feel grown-up

And I do

It is the wake that follows

A wave anticipated

Always a surprise

She’ll have the family in

One more burden

Though I think everyone

Will try to behave

(not a pub, you


though even there)

We’ll ponder mysteries

Though I doubt

We’ll talk about them

Memories might be easier

We’ll look for something positive

Or funny

Or strange

He took off once

And I have no idea

What transpired

I was a child

I guess I wasn’t allowed

To know


C L Couch



My older brother Rick died on Thursday night. He died as if he were asleep, and I suppose he was. His last insistances were not to have a service and to have his ashes scattered (not held onto). A wake was approved.


Photo by Kamil Feczko on Unsplash