Leaving Town after the Funeral

Jones, Richard

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Stanford, Ann Folwell
  • Date of entry: Jan-29-1997


The speaker's nephew has drowned at a young age. After the funeral, the speaker visits the grave to say a final goodbye. The speaker puts his "hand on the earth / above [the child's] dead heart," and observes that "it will be night / for a long, long time." Finally the speaker gets up to go and acknowledges a truth that he and the dead child share: "the cold child in the casket / is not the one I loved."


Throughout the speaker's time at the cemetery, workers are mowing grass, cleaning graves, taking a break. The speaker acknowledges their presence while he weeps at his nephew's grave. The image of busy activity juxtaposes with the "dead heart" of the child and the speaker's important realization and affirmation of who the loved child was. The poem evokes the attempt to come to terms with the finality of death as well as the joy in remembering the life of the dead person.

Primary Source

Country of Air: Poems by Richard Jones


Copper Canyon

Place Published

Port Townsend, Wash.