The old woman next door, the matriarch
of the family, has died. I saw her within
an hour of death laid out on the floor of
her large empty house. The Thais die
on the floor as they do everything else.
She had not recognized nor spoken to anyone
for days. Her city-family had arrived expecting
her death and my wife had told me that
“She must die soon.” She did.
Her death was announced by the arrival
of neon light-poles for two city blocks
in front of our houses and by loud, very loud
music from a boom box so large it had
to be towed by its own car trailer. There
were menacing PA speakers lined across
the top the kind last seen, I expect, at
massive Nazi rallies for Hitler.
I don’t know how to explain this love
of loud music. Saudia planes always
announce when entering the air space
over Mecca which sets off Hajji’ prayers
in the cabin in the loudest voices possible
to let Allah know they have come
on a their pilgrimage. Maybe this is similar
to Thais favoring very loud music. Dunno.
But I can see my mother if she were still here
putting her chin down and saying,
“Oh, that’s too loud!” And then when a flute,
or horn hits a sad, flat note shaking her
head and saying, “Oh, that’s not right, Earle.
Can we please leave?”
Traditional Thai funeral music seems to be
something that exists in the world but is
not held close to the heart as it is in the west.
It predates newspapers or media of any kind
and is simply meant to be an announcement.
Its volume is its reach.
I was prepared to go to the funeral, held at a wat, but Chunky told me that because I have bad knees I wasn’t required to go. The rural Thais evidently believe that people with bad legs run the risk of having a relapse if they go to a funeral.
My daughter Leanna is a teaching sociologist. I wonder if this fact might be something a sociologist might be intrigued by.
This in retrospect seems more an essay than a poem. If you put the two together you’d get a poessy. That’s what I’ll call it.