Yisroel Rabon: A Funeral

A Funeral
by Yisrael Rabon

Thirteen gentlemen in top hats hard as tin,
and in patent leather shoes black as ink,
with hair part slicked down with pomade –
walk behind a funeral,
a quiet funeral.

Rain falls on thirteen top hats hard as tin
and rinses off their powder, wipes off the pomade.
The thirteen gentlemen become green and pale.
like chalk.

Step by step the funeral goes.
Without a tear, a rustle or a word.
down one street up the other –
to the “good place”.

The corpse – a corpulent gentleman:
a belly, double chin, fat, greasy.
Five little undertaker Jews arrive,
feel his rear, navel, neck.

Five little undertaker Jews, swift as mice,
in smocks dance around him,
pinch, turn, sew, pluck
around the corps.

The thirteen gentlemen in top hats hard as tin
bend themselves over in two
and each one takes a tear from his eye
and tosses it into the grave.

The corpse – the giant,
moustache – in pointed twists,
hair slicked down,
shaved,
prettified,
he lies smiling sweetly:
Thank you!

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