When my grandfather died, 

His sister, slight with short gray hair,

came into the room at his wake

and said "Is that Jim?" 

It surprised me but I didn't know

this was an Irish wake tradition

To say "Who is it that's dead?" 

"Why did you depart?"

As the old crone called me

the Irish washer woman 

standing silent in the middle of the circle

now keening 

at my bedside

Who is it that is there? 


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