In memoriam . . .
We lost our Aunt Imogene this past spring. In the photo I am standing between her and my brother Daryl Mitchell, whom we lost many, many years ago. Imogene was one of a kind. This is the poem I wrote for her funeral:
A one-name dame, no middle one
She is in angel hours now
Count the words she spoke
The spaces between words,
the moments of silence
She looked back through her life in that final sleep
Each birthday Each husband
Each trip Each glazed ceramic
Each pan of cornbread Each pitcher of sweet tea
She could have graced the pages of any fashion magazine
This skinny, freckled little girl born in the back woods of Panola County
This teenager who mailed letters to Hollywod for photographs of the stars
That slim, elegant figure
Those long, long legs
The family nose
Her daddy's sharp Choctaw cheekbones
Her mother's sky-blue eyes
That high, twinkling laugh
A passage of bright lipstick on her lips
Cigarette smoke haloing her well-coifed head
Always dressed to the nines
But no matter how cosmopolitan she considered herself
That East Texas twang honeyed every syllable of her speech
Persnickety and poised, pale as a moonbeam
Perfect in her imperfection
The keeper of our family history
A treasurer of family keepsakes
Descendentless, but loved by nieces and nephews
The poet was right: April is the cruelist month
The month to bury our dead in the cold ground
While the warm promise of spring assails our senses
A commotion of wings in the sterile room
A gentle tug at her long-fingered hand
Looking back over her shoulder at her long life
But you can't go home, can't step in the same creek twice
Honey Dog and Zsa-Zsa and all her beloved pets run to meet her
As she crosses to the other side
Remember: No turning back, no turning back
Will she write letters in heaven?
Piling them in heaps of the finest paper etched with ink of gold
Will she stop worrying about the middle brother who is now close at hand?
And love her other brothers even more from afar?
Is it even possible to love more than she did on earth?
Do not weep, do not be sad
The loblolly pine still scents the sweet air
The wood wren still breakes the silence of the day
She lives in angel hours now.