It’s a strange sensation to feel
one’s blood drained and veins
restocked with preservative.
Stranger still to be washed
by a stranger, rubber gloves
and sponge stroking inanimate skin.
You brought them my favorite
dress, the sky blue one with satin
trim and the flats that match.
Even though you prefer me in red,
even though this is all for you
and them, and not for me.
An odd woman with a stern expression
spreads makeup, like cake frosting,
on my face and neck.
She paints pink into my cheeks,
life into my lips, and shadows
on my eyelids—the colors of lies.
She removes the single hoop earring
from my right ear, glues cubic zirconia
cabochons to each lobe,
glues Lee Press-On Nails to each finger,
glues false lashes to my lids,
stuck, stuck like glue.
An awkward man comes in and helps
her pull the dress over my head and my hips,
helps her slip each shoe onto each foot.
He first tries to put the left onto the right.
He rolls me onto my side and she zips the back.
He rolls me back onto my back.
They heave me into the lined box, faux silk,
supposedly resistant to punctures, to moisture,
a pillow for comfort.
The funeral home orders their caskets
from Costco, but they didn’t tell you that.
She straightens my head, aligns it
with my spine. She smooths my hair
with a boar hair brush to add shine.
Neither of them talk.
Neither of them smile.
The awkward man closes the lid
and wheels me into a corridor.
Even though you prefer me in red.
Even though I’m decorated like a cake.
You’ll be pleased.
Trish Hopkinson has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has been published in several anthologies and journals, including Stirring, Chagrin River Review, and The Found Poetry Review; her third chapbook is forthcoming from Lithic Press in 2017. She is a product director by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow Hopkinson on her blog where she shares information on how to write, publish, and participate in the greater poetry community at http://trishhopkinson.com/.