Observations Concerning the Role of the Anglican Funeral Service in the Murder Mystery


by Maryann Corbett

Man that is born of woman (saith the prayer book)
hath but a short time to live, especially
in British detective dramas
since it is foreordained that some poor sod
will be shot, strangled, drowned, or brained with a shovel
before the opening credits and theme music.

And because in the midst of life we are in death,
at least in prime time, he shall go to his grave,
his procession filmed in an arty overhead shot
with clergy in cassock and billowing surplice sleeves
intoning, while the dewy detective sergeant
gently pries from the grieving mother or widow
some awkward bit that detonates revelation.

And then we’re off in a furious search for justice
with sirens, dangerous driving, and rural scenery.
Even a bumbling American such as myself
is edified by glorious cinematography
and the blessed assurance of the Psalmist’s pastures
which are in Yorkshire, and his still waters in Oxford.

This gives us time to forget the Lord’s great mercy,
which we have prayed for, but certainly do not want
(pace the judge in robe and wig and cap)
for the actual perp, whose evil, twisted soul
is explicated by the genius sleuth
in a five-minute last judgment.

Forasmuch as it hath pleased almighty God
to permit in this life the deceptions that make for mystery,
let us be grateful, collapsing in our recliners
in the sure and certain hope that ninety minutes
will offer us righteousness before we sleep.


About the Author:

Maryann Corbett’s books are Breath Control (David Robert Books, 2012); Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter, a finalist for the Able Muse Prize (Able Muse, 2013); Mid Evil, winner of the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2015); and Street View, finalist for the Able Muse Prize and runner-up for the Hollis Summers Prize (Able Muse, 2017). Her fifth book, In Code, contains the poems about her years with the Revisor’s Office of the Minnesota Legislature and is just out from Able Muse Press. A sixth book, The O in the Air, will be published in 2022 by Colosseum Books. Her work has won the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and has appeared in many journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including Able Muse, Barrow Street, Christianity and Literature, The Dark Horse, Ecotone, PN Review, Rattle, River Styx, Southwest Review, and Subtropics. It has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, American Life in Poetry and the Poetry Foundation website and is included in anthologies like Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters and The Best American Poetry 2018.


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