The Sentence

Donald Hall

  Just after I turned nine,
my great-aunt Jennie died of cancer.
  At the funeral, her brother
George felt a pain in his back
  and four months later
we buried him. Put to bed late, after
  the funeral reunion
with its straight-faced family jokes,
  I lay awake, repeating
a sentence over and over
  in my head: It was as if
I read it in a book: ‘Then, when
  he was only nine
years old, “Death became a reality.”’