Open

There are two rooms.  One for the casket,
one for the service.  The latter
is larger, meant for Christmas sermons
and mass amens.  Too many pews
for our small service, but it has the projector.
That’s what matters.  The same dozen pictures
cycling over and over on the ten-foot screen,
because that’s all there had been time for.
A dozen pictures.  Newborn baby girl
looking grandpa in the eyes, reaching
for daddy’s midnight stubble.  Her daddy,
my brother.  He isn’t even crying.
No one is.  In the other room,
people sit and pray.  The same look
crosses everyone’s face as they pass the casket,
all five stages of grief in a split second before
something human in them dies.
It’s open.
The casket is open.
Whispers say that can’t be her,
that loosely tucked body with the porcelain face
and the fingers curled just so.
She can’t be the one in the pictures.  She spent two days
breathing outside the womb.  It took longer than that
to preserve her sleeping state on a steel tray
before they transferred her to this padded box
and left the cover open.

 

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