condolence note: los angeles :: carol muske-dukes

The sky is desert blue,
Like the pool. Secluded.
No swimmers here. No smog—

Unless you count this twisting
Brush fire in the hills. Two kids
Sit, head-to-head, poolside,

Rehearsing a condolence note.
Someone has died, “Not an intimate,
Perhaps a family friend,” prompts

The Manners Guide they consult.
You shouldn’t say God never makes
Mistakes
, she quotes, snapping her

Bikini top. Right, he adds–You
Could just say, He’s better off–or
Heaven was always in his future.

There’s always a better way to say
We’re sorry that he’s dead–but
they’re back inside their music now,

Pages of politeness fallen between them.
O do not say that the Unsaid drifts over us
Like blown smoke: a single spark erupts

In wildfire! Cup your hands, blow out
This wish for insight. Say: Forgive me
For living when you are dead. Say pardon

My need to praise, without you, this bright
Morning sky. It belongs to no one–
But I offer it to you, heaven in your future–

Along with silent tunes from the playlist,
The end-time etiquette book dropped
From the hand of the young sleeper.

It’s all we have left to share. The book
Of paid respects, the morning’s hot-blue
iPod, sunlit words on a page, black border.