First Funeral

by Neil Donnelly

Uncle Eddie, large head, black hair,

who until that moment, in an open

box in a house on Cider Avenue, Belfast,

looking healthy on that cold black

January day, I had never met.

Milltown burial, white gloves,

black hats, undertakers’ small pockets,

red cheeks, black ties. Afterwards,

back in Cider Avenue, food, music,

jokes, laughter, long tears.

Cousins newly met, nasal

buzz saw accents, all warm, out

to Comber; Strangford Lough from

the bathroom window. He was a bit

of a gambler, my father said.

His daughter married a famous

singer; his son became a drummer.

Etched in memory that drive north,

black coats, meeting cousins for the first

time; January 1967, when all seemed


Neil Donnelly

Neil Donnelly is the author of the poetry collections Tullamore Train and Sister Caravaggio as well as the author of several plays produced at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
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