The Procession

I saw a long line of vehicles
on Vineyard Boulevard yesterday
maybe 25 cars, including a black hearse
all of them with their emergency lights blinking.

There were unmarked police vehicles
their long blue light bars lit
both at the front and the back
and several motorcycle police brought up the rear.

They were all stopped, waiting for the light to change
eerily quiet, flashing haphazardly
and I remembered how every funeral in town
used to be a lugubrious cavalcade.

Police escorts galore, sirens blaring
blocking opposing traffic
running through stoplights
everybody in a rush to get the body to the grave.

It seemed like every dead person must be a celebrity
but these were almost always
just ordinary people like us
who had lots of loved ones left behind.

One time I asked my father
why he always turned off the car radio
creating a long dead silence
when one of these processions drove by.

“It’s to show respect for the person,” he said
and the minute we began moving again
he’d turn the music back on
return us to the land of the living.

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