No one jostled for position as chief mourner, next to the aisle, closest to the priest; they knew the power the oldest was given, assumed, and gave way. The youngest cloaked her fury in quiet steel, speaking lightly when her turn came. The others, adopted and adapted, forged ahead, hung close. They buried him between his two wives, in a graveyard, not in the floor of the old church in Timoleague where on moonlit nights others had secretly brought their dead, broke ground, hauled slab stones, harried, hurried, whispered prayers as the swollen river slunk around the roofless ruin, the undercurrent urging a torrent toward the sea, pulling grasses like combed hair from its banks, cold and neutral to the bones of Catholic and Protestant, in the end, interred together.
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