My Mother Does Not Want to be Buried

          Mom wants to become a diamond,
          she tells me over meatloaf and mushroom
          ragoût. She does not want to fill a wooden box;
          she wants her carbon burnt and pressed
          to luster. I’ll take her to the factory
          that turns mothers into diamonds.
          Picture chisel that carves slices
          from her rock. Scratch her
          on glass; she makes it chalky dust.
          I’ll turn her around in my hand
          hide her when I walk down-
          town, and hope I don’t get mugged,
          hope the mugger doesn’t pawn
          her, hope the money isn’t spent
          on cigarettes. My prayers,
          spoken over the gem of her, rest
          on my left hand, next to the shimmering
          band placed there by my husband.
          She tells me she wants to be a tree,
          shade milkweed thistle and bone,
          become green and bear fruit.
          She builds a future out of someone
          else’s branches. I’ll bury
          her belongings until I am diamond.
          She is rosary bead; she is quartz keeping
          death’s time. She fills her chest with
          these stones; she will not fill a grave.
          Anubis weighs her heart. Today,
          she is not buried. Instead, she slices
          cucumbers over the sink, six to eight servings.
          She rinses gravy from my porcelain plate,
          brushes her teeth with obituary
          daily; words like “dearly” and “survived”
          cling to her teeth like taffy.
          She does not know how not to be haunted;
          a ghost escapes her mouth. She stands
          atop a Ferris wheel and lets it take
          her down. In lieu of flowers,
          she makes sure I’m ready for her
          death, leaves enough for me to pay
          at Styx for passage to her next life,
          gleaming facets carved and set
          in silver and white gold.

John LaPine has an MA in Creative Writing & Pedagogy from Northern Michigan University (NMU), and volunteered as Associate Editor of creative nonfiction & poetry for NMU’s literary journal, Passages North, for three years. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Foliate Oak Literary Journal, Hot Metal Bridge, Glint Literary Journal, Apofenie, and Midwestern Gothic. He teaches English at Butte College.