The Day That Elvis Died
Northern Ireland, August 16, 1977
crows' calls in elms
wet earth on timber-
My mother bravely waves her king farewell. I cry tears for words not said. Pallbearers carry his open casket past us, through the great hall onto the porch between Doric pillars, down wide gray steps, as he had wished, to slowly pace the winding white-fenced avenue towards copper beeches and grand spreading chestnut trees. It was my father's favorite, to walk there with his faithful hounds. A Buòuel scene this gloomy Irish day with its drizzly rain, the bowler hats, checkered caps and bobbing black umbrellas. Aside the white-fenced driveway the snorting stallion canters close by the crawling hearse. A line behind, of mourners, shuffles steady steps on pebbles towards the old stone gate-lodge. Armored tanks with bullet-proofed British soldiers stop, search me on my way to the cemetery. I stand stooped in soaking rain to see his coffin slowly lowered. Steely, long faces mutter blessings. At home that night, after the grievers leave our house of death, when my mother, still distressed, pulls apart the heavy velvet curtains (no longer is my family home to be so somber as a funeral parlor subsumed with sympathies), to take my mind away from sorrow I watch the news, learn that The King is dead. Death follows us all day. All week. All month. Each time the lounge-door handle turns we raise our heads, look expectantly for daddy. More silence, only acceptance that he won't be back. Yet my grief, my fear, is strangely transposed to that “Gracelands” mansion, gripped in Memphis-fever-swallowed tears. I cry. Two idols are gone.
Today, another year is over. Another anniversary comes. The media, in Elvis frenzy, asks: Where were you the day that Elvis Died? It's thirty years since they both departed. Oh, my papa, to me you are so wonderful. We sang these words together. We are still here, we are still singing There will be peace in the valley one day.
sparkles in signals
on speckled tree trunks
after the rain