The Narrator Encounters Death
As I walked today, I passed a man in the street
who wore a red carnation in his buttonhole.
Helen, he smelled like death. He smiled as he passed.
The man who was wearing death in his buttonhole
smiled a crooked smile with Chicklet gleaming teeth.
A child’s casket is so white. Tiny. Hers was
white and piled with carnations. He smelled like her casket.
I hated him. I hate the cemetery. I hate seeing my child there.
I wanted to bury her in the backyard to plant
jasmine around her eyes to hang feeders above her lips
to place bird baths below her feet. I would have fought
to keep the house if she were there. The government won’t
let bodies be buried on private property. Not in this century.
Why do they mind her tiny bird body in her tiny white
casket in the tiny piece of ground I owned? This is wrong.
This frightens me. She is surrounded by strangers and public
displays of mourning. I am frightened for us, Helen. Don’t
turn out the light. It is too hard to see her face in shadows.