Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

4/11/08

If I’m Still Here When I Die (poem)

If I’m Still Here When I Die
Anthony Trendl

Bury me in a Baptist churchyard.
I’ve been a Catholic, a Methodist, a Lutheran–
but bury me
in a Baptist churchyard.
The dead are dead and bones are bones
and my broken frame will be no different.

Give me a coffin of pine or oak–I don’t care.
Slice the wood so the edge is sharp,
and stain it brown as dirt so it matches right.

Dig the hole four by seven by six with two
big men with brittle, callused hands,
with spade stem slivers hidden under thick skin.
Pay them well so they use a straight plumb line
and not their eye.

Pray the prayer all dead men hear,
let it resound and echo across the yard, from stone
to stone, ear to ear and back
to the preacher.

Toss the dirt scoop by scoop
but let whomever loves me most
fill the space between the box and earth.
Pack it hard, flat and smooth
and sprinkle grass seeds for birds to eat.

Cut the stone in good Roman letters–
big and proud, “Here lies
I.” Any name will do and this year is as good as that.
Next year would do just fine.

Leave the grave, my bones, box and stone
until grass is so thick that the stone cracks long lines.
So long as it is in a Baptist churchyard.
Only the Baptists know how to cheer.


What do you think? How futile is death? Does it matter how we are buried if the grave does not really hold us?

What about the name on the grave? If I am not there, why put my name?

What about cheering? Not picking on the Baptists, of course, but asking the question: should we celebrate death, and what should such a celebration look like?

These questions stem directly from a worldview - a faithview - that includes eternal life through Jesus Christ. The body remains where it landed, but the soul moves on.
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