The rabbi was intoning the prayer for the dead. 

 

The crowd around said amen at all the right spots 

 

And like a wild herd watching the wolf 

 

All craned their necks towards the headstone. 

 

And when the widow arose 

 

They all inhaled and moved around her. 

 

They waited breathless for her to say the Kaddish 

 

And when she bowed, 

 

They also bowed and breathed out their fear. 

 

Their shoulders dropped. 

 

They shrunk to individual figures 

 

Who were engrossed in conversation 

 

And broke off in twos and threes 

 

As it were at random. 

 

But as the widow moves, the circle of space moves with her 

 

Protected as she is by the quiet aura of death. 

 

She moves toward me 

 

And unaware, I break the circle 

 

Enter it and take her hand. 

 

The buzz of conversation stops. 

 

I wish her well. 

 

And she moves on 

 

Comforted by streams of people coming in and out of her orbit 

 

Like streaking comets across our night 

 

Dropping words of comfort 

 

Like stardust 

 

Into her wounded heart. 

 

Through drying tears, the widow smiles 

 

And walks firmly out of the cemetery.