Lake Effect, Volume 27: "Speaking of Diversion"

Speaking of Diversion

By Alice Friman

On the day we buried Daisy,
the hearse had to stop for gas.
Our limo with its trail of cars
followed, crowding into that 
Shell station not daring to be
separated from Daisy–the only
one who knew where we were
heading and how to get there.                
The driver apologized profusely. 
Some pimpled underling at the
Paradise Funeral Home where 
We feel your pain forgot his job. 
Daisy didn't mind, but we, stuck
in that big black car, laughed un-
easily. Her grandson told jokes,
her son chuckled over a hangnail 
which had irritated him all week, 
while I, a mere daughter-in-law, 
fought to keep my face straight.
But Daisy remained still, having
absorbed all the world's patience
by now, now that all the funeral
fuss was over. Perhaps the fact 
that she was the star of the show 
made her feel–in a strange way–
responsible or embarrassed. She 
was always feeling embarrassed. 
Well, all that was over now too, 
wasn't it? Some things are hard
to wrap one's head around. Like
this gas business. I mean to say,
could you ever, in the depths of
your wierdest fantasy, imagine
such a thing as a hearse running
out of gas? Shakespeare would 
have written it in as comic relief
and let it go at that, even with
our Daisy dolled up in her best
going-away clothes, patient as 
a post and not even capable of
appreciating the joke. In truth,
I never thought his comic relief
was so comic or much of a relief. 
Take the drunk porter in Macbeth,
Act II, Scene III, if you're tempted
to look it up. The very moment
doom's bang, banging at the gates
and treason's twisting its bloody
knife, the very moment prophecy
cackles, grinding its gears, greased
by the sweat of the gibbet rope,
he's off and running at the mouth–
a blithering fool, a clown, while
the audience, stuck in their seats,
titter uneasily, exactly as we were
doing, stuck in that big, black car,
anxiously waiting for the hearse's
tank to fill so we and the cars be-
hind us could finally find the place
where in the end we were all going.