Catching up on poems I skipped while I was out of town last week.
The day 16 prompt at Poetic Asides was “write a science poem.” There were a lot of ways to address this, but I don’t have a very strong science aptitude. Trying to write about something you don’t understand doesn’t work. However, I then remembered one aspect of science about which I have a strong, informed opinion:
TAKE ME AS I AM
I never liked the idea of embalming,
although I didn’t truly understand
what it meant. I just knew it kept you
from decomposing during the public
formalities, although anyone I ever saw
didn’t look like themselves.
Sometimes they almost appeared flat to me,
as if they’d been ironed. It turned me off,
and I warned my family if they laid me out,
I’d have a look on my face no embalmer
could mold into something pleasant.
Then I saw a documentary on the science
of embalming: the draining of bodily fluids
into a well in the floor, the intravenous pumping
of solutions into the tissues. It was more
than painting the flesh to attempt
the pink flush of life. This explained
why the dead’s hands looked collapsed,
like a baggy emptied of liquid, wrinkled
without dimensions. I’m telling you,
take me as I am
to the crematory. Remove anything
you think you can use first, but
no draining me dry, no injecting me
with poisons. Remember my hands
as plump and active: crocheting a doily,
dancing over a keyboard, even
whacking fast in a slap fight. Let memory
soften and mellow my features, not the rosy
track lighting in the funeral parlor.