A Ceremony for the Member of a Small Southern Church
Who is to be Buried Alive
A clean, white church,
a thin layer of sand is on the floorboards.
The vicar stands on the left side of the altar,
behind a pulpit.
On the right side a woman dressed in mournful black
sits behind an organ.
In the middle of the altar stands a casket,
its lid lies behind.
On a small table lies an ornate metal disk,
about two centimetres thick.
Two people are seated.
One in the left row, towards the middle of the pew.
The other is on the right, nearly at the back.
Down the aisle walks a man,
dressed formally, in all black,
wearing a shroud.
He stops in front of the altar and takes a small bow.
He walks up the steps and takes place in the casket.
The vicar lays his hand upon the man's forehead.
He mutters something,
and places a candle in the man's hands.
From both sides of the altar two men
approach the middle,
both in religious dress of some sort.
The men place the lid upon the casket,
upon which a hole in the lid becomes visible.
A hole lined with metal through which the candle fits.
The candle is lit and the organ starts playing.
The vicar speaks,
but it is impossible to make out what he is saying.
This continues for some time
until the flame is beyond the hole.
The vicar says a final word
and picks up the metal disk.
All the lights go out.
The church goes grey with shadows.
For a moment, the only light visible
is the flame within the casket.
The vicar places the disk within the hole
and the light goes out.
Ceremonial candles are lit.
The organ plays its last note,
whilst the casket is carried away.
Those present follow,
with the woman behind the organ being the last.
The church is empty.