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The Fare

Molly Peacock
From:   Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems. W.W. Norton / Penguin Canada, 2002.


Bury me in my pink pantsuit, you said--and I did.
But I'd never dressed you before! I saw the glint
of gold in your jewelry drawer and popped
the earrings in a plastic bag along with pearls,
a pink-and-gold pin, and your perfume. ("What's this?"
the mortician said . . . "Oh well, we'll spray some on.")
Now your words from the coffin: "Take my earrings off!
I've had them on all day, for God's sake!"

You've had them on five days. The lid's closed,
and the sharp stab of a femininity
you couldn't stand for more than two hours in life
is eternal- you'll never relax. I'm 400 miles away.
Should I call up the funeral home and have them removed?
You're not buried yet - stored till the ground thaws -
where, I didn't ask. Probably the mortician's garage.
I should have buried you in slippers and a bathrobe.
Instead, I gave them your shoes. Oh, please
do it for me. I can't stand the thought of you
pained by vanity forever. Reach your cold hand
up to your ear and pull and hear the click
of the clasp hinge unclasping, then reach
across your face and get the other one
and- this effort could take you days, I know,
since you're dead. Let it be your last effort:
to change my mistake and be dead in comfort.
Lower your hands in their places
on your low mound of stomach and rest, rest,
you can let go of the earrings. They'll fall
to the bottom of the casket like tokens,
return fare fallen to the pit
of a coat's satin pocket.



Molly Peacock's works copyright © to the author.


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