Remember Solomon from The Bible?
Well, he was wrong: anything
can be divided, even a mother’s
body, without prompting virtue
in at least one of her children.
She’s dead, of course, unlike
the infant in the story, and in theory
no more damage can be done
to her, but her memory is whole;
her spirit is whole. Who wants
another round of motherhood,
being ripped to shreds
by the snarling wolves of want?
Who wants to spend eternity
in so many dens at once?
The crematorium is king now,
dispensing its fiery wisdom
or what passes as wisdom: the body
without blood. Like cockroaches
after the apocalypse, acrimony
shall prevail. Bring in the lawyers.
“You will each get one-fifth
of your mother’s remains.” Although
every child says he should get all
of her, my claim—I know, I know—
seems more reasonable. After all,
I protected her with my skull,
with my ten-year-old bones.
Would that she were a fifth
of Jack Daniels! We’d sit at a bar
until we were toast, burnt
beyond recognition, which is
just how she liked her toast.
She was the one who taught me
fractions, a family’s improper ones.
It almost has the word “fine” in it,
as in, “My mother was so fine.”
Like a ghost, the “e” is present,
though not in person.
“Finial,” too, that ornament of love
on the roof ridge of sorrow.
“Up here! Up here! Look at me!”
cries the wanting “i.”
How my mother could fashion a house!
(A decorator never calls
Black walls in a living room!
And “fail,” though it isn’t lacking a letter.
A coffin, like a narcissist, never pines.
The word is short on life;
it always makes a killing.
Marriages fail, businesses fail…
Never trust a broker—
Cupid, oxygen, E.F. Hutton—
that alphabets against you.