Learning Through Dying

Every so often one of my dirt road memories
Comes back to me— but it never hits me in the face
Rather, the black hearse speeds by
Igniting the standard orange cloud of dust that
Inevitably swims toward heaven
Entering my nostrils as if I had summoned it

The natural sneeze that follows teleports my eyeline
To meet a steeple— the steeple
Where I so often said goodbye
Walking past a line of pretenders
Who behave as if they see dead bodies all the time
My age doesn’t permit pretending outside of treehouses
And the sight of yellow skin sets my brain ablaze

Sweat runs down my face like tears as I’ve forgotten
How to cry, how to keep living after seeing death
Walking upon the lost in the summer heat
Where I have learned something new under the sun:

No one is ever prepared for death and
It’s certainly never prepared for us

We open the earth to swallow those now loved by all
While the living continue to hate and be hated

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