Funeral Song

Not a melody,
not the voice of a songbird,
but quiet trails of tears,
silent prayers, the coarse cries
of a grown man.


A stranger opens and closes
his mouth in motions noiseless
over the sounds, yet his voice
raises itself above stubborn eyes
seeking a path for later.


Death is a job,
not blood or flesh
but another story to forget and then
an angry girl tells the stranger
to shut his mouth.

by Tan Lixin
from Before We Are Ghosts (2015)