At Sunset Memorial Funeral Home
by Loretta Diane Walker

I am not going to do a moral striptease.
—Nicole C. Mullen

The sun painted a huge smile across the sky
and we are in coats, chills tugging at our tails.
Sun where is your heat, honesty where are your shoes?
And how are we to wear our true selves
without stripping away the clothes of expectation
others have dressed us in?
And why does unveiling a flawed character
make others shiver?

How are we to cross this gulf
between morality and judgment?
Confession and sharing? Warning and wisdom?
Ponte di Rialto has its wooden pilings,
Landwasser its curvy limestone,
Mackinac its blue and white steely arm,
and life this pencil of time.
Curious how it resculptures the face,
draws lines of wisdom and folly beneath the brow.
We are born with breaths piled in us
like a five hundred count bag of cotton balls.

And when the bag is empty?
I am at Sunset Memorial Funeral Home
making my eyes like dams,
refusing to let tears roll over my lashes,
staring at the neon Jaguar Gold Club sign
across the street and wondering—
is death dancing, shedding pieces of sorrow
while gentlemen cackle at bare thighs?

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