Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Mortician

They display their dead like Easter hams-
Carefully glazed to look pleasant and fresh.
They mourn by decoration and so
I decorate.

His daughter approaches,
To ask about flowers-
Arrangements, and the meaning behind each bloom.
I sniff out her perfume and wonder 
If she ever sent candy-grams to his desk
When he was alive and thinking of his grandchildren.

He was a pilot before this,
Eschewing ridiculous notions like gravity 
And feathers. 
I do not suppose he would warm to the idea of being
Trussed and filled with weight.
But, I am only the mortician,
And she does not ask if I would like a brown suit better than
This navy blue, which washes out the blush I have so
Painstakingly applied.

What is rouge on a dead face anyway?
All the beauty in the pallor layered off-
Why should he look excited? The dead are not excited.
Death has relieved them and granted them
Dead expressions.
They should not look as if they will blink at you.

I reach inside to adjust one cuff link, the left, which has gone astray
(Even without the ticks and twitches, the life under their skins, can the dead still manage
To misplace their belongings?)

I turn back to the daughter,
Who wonders aloud if orange lilies wouldn't be more appropriate
Than the white-
To set the mood for mourning. 
Orange lilies, 
To symbolize wealth and not love,
She is nodding in approval.

If I were not only the mortician,
I would tell her which flowers are perfect for her dead father,
Who loved to fly
And whose pilot wings were pinned to his left sleeve until a moment ago.
And though I am only the mortician,
I will walk to his grave and leave them there,
With a bouquet of Tuberose, which symbolize 
Dangerous Pleasure.