Vanities


Feel your belly button,
where you were attached to
your mother. But
try not to think about
about the night you were conceived.
Whether it was a result of
a hand up a skirt, urgent kisses
and fevered promises
and premature explanations
on your mother’s couch.
(After consultations with
your inner editor,
let’s instead say it was
after a long talk over wine,
Chopin on the stereo,
tender kisses and happy plans.)

What does it matter now? You’re here.
Don’t screw up.
That’s what it comes down to.

Or wind your watch forward
(humor me, you digital ones)
a thousand years.
Was there ever a coffin
built to last the whole trip?
One that was worth the price?
We could ask Tutenkamen, I suppose,
(Who was bad at office politics
and is still dead.)

So what does all the flash matter, really?
At some point,
There’s no Better Business Bureau
left to complain to,
and no one left to care
whether you got the
Hallmark deluxe bronze model
with white satin interior.

Who’s going to check, after it’s
in the ground, that they
didn’t switch it out for a pine box?
(Don’t laugh; it happens.)
And in your ear,
the unctuous, soothing
voice of the undertaker, murmuring
that your coffin is
every bit as good,
yessiree, as any old Pharaoh’s
plundered vanity pile
in the desert.