It took three bologna sandwiches, a pickle, one slice
of banana bread to get her ready for the families that came
to see what happened to the relative they lost somehow,
the bodies she kept chilled while they hardened, waited
for the hearses, the morticians smiling, making bad jokes
about the fat lady they dropped on the floor one night.
The families come just after the Coca-Cola made her burp,
opening the door to the cabinet so they can see how naked
death is, none of the things we accumulate beside us,
none of the failures, the prizes, the big houses, no thing
in itself, while whatever memories they had are somewhere
where dreams go and die. When peering eyes of parents wet,
then burst into the floods of sorrow, she stares at nothing,
the bright glow in the skylight under morning clouds, and
when they are gone she presses the door closed, her hands
holding each other, her arms in a bow like a hammer,
some nights the up and down of making light of putting
the dead away comes up on her in a sudden rush of rage.
She stands there slamming the door, clasped hand
in clasped hand, arms connected like a bow now steel
in a broad protest against why we cannot keep the ghost.