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.