The minks are purses refusing to close
though what they contain will kill us:
the candies, coins, and Kleenex handed
about by mommies, aunties, and grannies
who will not—cannot—conceive or connect
how their presence in the pews
could possibly aid the Angel of Death
and why indeed should they heed that conclusion
having themselves been raised on ever-afters
perforated with heal-all kisses,
not to mention magic slippers
never getting tugged from feet by mud
en route and around inadequate graves.
None of them—nor the deacons or preachers
nor the so-called reality shows—
talk about how dead bodies leak
and fart and darken into hues
not approved by Disney or Dior.
Early on Black Friday I saw
the Angel of Death grinning broadly
at row upon row of shopping carts:
visions of people merrily crowding
one another into plastic bags
danced in that herald’s eyes,
speckled with the gleam of yet more carts
becoming makeshift mobile trunks
for many more about to lose their homes—
more for the Angel to harvest faster
than we can preserve in time.
Tennessee clay may not be as light
as Danish loam, but it won’t matter
how much our latter-day Pharisees
try to cover the corpses or tracks:
there will be no masking the stench
of all they let perish during their watch.
by Peg Duthie
Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem is so beautifully contained within the lines that the shocking emotional impact sneaks up on the reader with every enjambment.