Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Standstill

There it is, finally, the square black box 
with a faint birr, a voltage, on my front doorstep.  
This is what is left of you, dear brother
your skull, your ribs and femurs, 
your sick liver and blistered lungs, 
your bad teeth, your voice
all drained into this box.
I’m afraid to hold you long so I sit you down 
quickly so not to drop you, trying not to tip you 
so that your fragments do not collide
and so here you sit on the window sill
which your presence makes seem like an altar now 
so I step back with tingling and shudders, 
unable to open the box, to touch it again. 
So I can only stand, still as you, stiller even
as if alone and frozen on a glacier, eyeing the
box as if there were still a ticking 
coming from you, as if I could smell smoke, as if 
an unnatural force pushes me away from you. 
I can’t imagine what you look like in there, 
heavy soot, but I have read about cremation
it’s the trend now--the dead chose burning, 
they want their fillings and metal valves, plastic 
replacements, all melted down, smoked, 
their loose particles coming to a cool standstill, 
living only in the mortal minds
that worry how to scatter them.