The sun was setting well behind my back
(And well behind the mountain)
As I stood for just a moment
And looked up upon the sky
As mourners made their way
From sanctuary’s words of comfort
To the kitchen’s comfort foods.
And there, upon the gray-clad cloud,
A crystal band a-glow.
Too small, this sight, to capture with
The sensors of the pocket camera.
I doubt too many noticed it at all.
It lacked the hues of saffron or of crimson:
Just a top-lit arc of argent, glowing
With reflected sunlight, in a corner
Of the sky.
I thought: It is no wonder
We imagine heaven in the clouds.
Wherever it might be you gather souls, O God,
Wherever you have welcomed this dear man,
And others dear, women and men and everyone,
May it be as glorious, or even more,
As this fair gleaming, beaming from the cloud.
And thank you for this brief reflection
Of a glory promising your grace.
Thank you, God, for light on clouds.
Thank you, God, for light in hearts. Amen.
In memory of Kenneth Susumu Tanouye, after whose funeral I saw this light upon the clouds, and with love for all those who have gone from our care to God’s.
The photo does not particularly resemble the light reflected in this poem. It’s more dramatic — which is a virtue of its own, and so it won its place here.