death rituals

inform everyone who cares about
them or you that they have died.
call the relatives, the neighbors,
set up the morgue visit.
ride the car there in silence.
don’t say a word.
just try to breathe.
touch their cold face even if you
don’t want to.
kiss their hands even if they’re
freezing,
even if it hurts that they can’t
caress your face.
don’t be put off by the smiling
corpse.
this is the last time you get
to see them in the flesh.
mama said you have to be here.
push through.
wail out loud in the company of
strangers and people you love,
even if you don’t want to,
even if it’s embarrassing.
have a full blown panic attack.
be the crazy woman in public
for once and own it.
now is not the time to be shy.
grab your heart like it’ll jump
out of your chest if you don’t.
let your brother carry you
when you fall to the ground.
don’t think of them
don’t think of them.
just try to breathe.
go to the mosque for prayers.
shoo crying strangers away
from your tired mother.
find her a chair.
say hi to old friends and old
lovers who have come to pay
their respects.
ignore the awkwardness of the
situation.
head home for the funeral.
ride the car in silence.
don’t say a word.
put on the funeral clothes
your friends have brought over
and greet the extended family.
look at walls and dissociate
for hours.
hide in the bathroom.
ask your best friend to chop
off your hair.
try to eat, or resist the food
being shoved down your throat.
drag your lover to your bedroom
to witness a secret meltdown.
say hi to a stranger while crying.
say thank you for coming,
but i wish you would leave,
i wish everyone would leave.
don’t think of them
don’t think of them.
try to breathe.
cry out loud and scare the sad
guests.
tell the ignorant idiot spewing
platitudes to shut the fuck up.
push away the lady annoying
your mom.
yell at the aunt telling your
sister to stop crying.
let your best friends hold
your hand.
let them take care of the little
things like they want to.
let them fight some of your battles.
forgive them for being so
worried that you haven’t eaten in
two days.
eat a little bit just for them.
kiss your mother’s crying face.
curse god for his carelessness.
look at your siblings for
confirmation the world
is now over.
decide to stop listening to
music.
decide no more make-up,
no more color,
only black clothes from now on.
don’t think of them.
don’t think of them.
just try to breathe.
even when you don’t want to.
even when you’re wishing it was
you who died.
tell your friends you want to
die.
tell them you don’t know where
to go from here –
if not out loud, then with your
eyes.
inhale, count
1 2 3 4
exhale,
1 2 3 4.
don’t think of them.
don’t think of them.
try to breathe.
do it again tomorrow.

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