From her shop on the corner where Ninth crosses Buttonwood
she sees the silent ambulance proceed to Evans funeral home.
When the call comes she heads out in the pickup,
her hot pink vinyl bag packed with sprays, rat tail combs and clippers,
hip-snug on the front seat. Says she has a calling she inherited
from her aunt who inherited it from her uncle, passed along
like an unexpected bequeath in a will. The family mission
to groom the aged, the ailing, the dead. She knows it’s about a desire
to go on living. One last brushing of the suit, one last snip of hair.
The undertaker ushers family and friends who pass a final hour
considering their own frail fate and find comfort
they are not the one who is dead but, truth be told, it is naught but rehearsal.
It is a stone in the belly, a choke hold on the neck. The I’m so sorry
for your loss hitch in the throat. And while mourners mill, the casket
will be latched then loaded into the waiting hearse where cascades
of gladiolus, pink against a black car, bloom into a cold sun.
Robbin Farr, poet and essayist, lives and writes in Doylestown, PA. She is a founder and co-editor of River Heron Review, an online poetry journal, publishing and supporting poets from across the globe. Her poetry has been published in various journals and anthologies. Her book, Become Echo (Atmosphere Press), is forthcoming in early 2023. Learn more about Robbin at robbinfarr.com.