Briefly Rapturous by Dale Champlin

I admit I love beauty—
is there anything more splendid
than an open casket?

See how the corpse is laid out in finery—
all pink satin and serenity. Notice
the carefully applied makeup, ladylike—

unlike anything that went before.
The departed soul might flit—
moth-delicate in candlelight.

Bouquets burgeon down either side
of the aisle—trumpet-shaped vases
gleam lustered, golden and glossy

at the end of each pew—
a dusting of roses, lilies and baby’s-breath
the scent of lilacs, incense and beeswax. 

Mourners’ shadows, long and narrow, 
nod and bow with the requiem—
shuffle forward for a last glimpse.

And all the black gabardine, parched denim,
threadbare wool, mothball musty,
here and there a veil—how appropriate—

fragrant floor polish and rusty specks
powder up from cushions compressed 
under supplicant’s knees.

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