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.