Romaine Hill

 The Funeral of Pa Fouché

The news that Pa Fouché had died
had brought his offspring all;
their feud from early in his life
had well-nigh caused his fall.

Now gathered in the ancient pews
Morné the youngest sat;
direct before his anxious gaze
half-sister, Iris, snake-like in her hat.

Her bearing fierce, her glance a curse,
he knew of old her tricks;
his keys he jangled at his side
his wavering courage firm to fix.

The Dominee he bade them rise,
they prayed and sang a hymn.
Then tense, Morné his keys let drop –  
they struck Sis sharply on her shin.

Swift she gathered the offending bunch;  
into her pocket, deep it drop’t. 
He knew she’d torture him once more;
knew now she’d not be stop’d.

‘In the midst of life we are in death,’
the Dominee’s voice rang.
He knew that death; it haunted him –
just then, up Iris sprang.

The benediction firm pronounced
from out her pew she rose,
the evil thoughts that stirred the air
disturbing the Old Man’s repose.

As Morné follow’d  in his turn,
she ducked deftly aside.
Este her cousin waited there –
they’d take him for a ride. 

What if to scheme and plot in Church
might constitute a deadly sin,
the little runt had met his match,
 if she could rope her cousin in. 

Leaning upon her niggie’s arm,
 she moved through the side door:
‘He drop’t his keys and bruised my shin. 
 Let’s bring him to the floor.’ 

Reaching the church’s rear façade
 she toss’d the keys roof high.
They rolled into the gutter wide
 a full three months to lie.

‘Stranded now Morné will be,
anxious for his wife and child.’
‘Without his link with house and home,
 in that same week that Pa has died.’

Conferring, the women smiled and smooth’d
their skirts and greying hair.
Then sneering Iris moved hearse-ward
To find Morné plunged  in despair. 

As Pa was driven off for aye,
in Iris heart a fury deep
arose.    Morné’s own ma it was
 their father loved and chose.

Yet, smiling down on her and Es,
 her mother now would be,
to see how they’d aveng’d her shame –
 e’en at the funeral of Pa Fouché.


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