Before Malcolmâ€™s funeral got started, I stood talking with John the blacksmith, who told me Heâ€™d been spending some pretty hard hours With a pair of two-year-old Friesian mares Whoâ€™d never had their feet trimmed. In a flash, I thought of a feral donkey In Ireland, back thirty years,
Poor animal, lowly mount of the Christ, Hobbling on hooves long as breadloaves. This had nothing whatever to do with Malcolm, But somehow it did, as it happened. Malcolm had once pronounced me as husband. A wonder. Iâ€™d gotten the girl, More than the clumsy hero can fathom
When it crops up in sappy movies. So Malcolm is part of a long, joyful marriage, And the family it made, including The children he baptized. One reading Came from a funny note Heâ€™d left for the pastor, which said in part: â€śNon-judgment day is coming,
Beware.â€ť I could virtually feel Malcolmâ€™s voice, Insisting as ever that God Was too big to conform to anyoneâ€™s will. There was no one so evil or ill To have strayed beyond the Lordâ€™s grace, he claimed. He was frumpy and funny but mostly Just good. An accomplished athlete as well,
Improbably fierce on the courts, Although he loved his every opponent, Heâ€™d wanted his ashes interred In a tennis-ball can. It might seem absurd That I conjured horse or burro, But as we mourners chuckled and wept, I imagined I heard soft words, Malcolmâ€™s, and knew his hand would have stroked
Those neglected, suffering creatures. That funeral day, for all who were there, Was so painful Iâ€™d almost swear It hurt them to stand on Godâ€™s green earth. For my part at least I wished I could somehow walk for a while on air.