as a mortician

the soft spoken woman in the black suit

i learned to counsel grieving families
all of whom had greatly differing needs

to the religious and overwrought
it took little more than reminding them
their loved one was now with god
to offer them consolation

but for the nonbelievers
i couldn’t just defer
to an intangible parent in the sky

i had to mean it
i had to know it
i had to give them something valid

looking into their eyes unwavering i would say,

“He will never again feel pain of any kind. Your peace begins there.”

it was true
it was fact
it was relevant

even for a baby who would never cry

they could touch the cold tranquility
smell the flowers surrounding the casket
knowing their dearly departed
had gone back to the stars

i remember these things
and i wonder how i’m still alive