We do not touch our dead anymore.
I touched my dying mother.
I could not touch my dead
mother, though I kissed them both.
I turned off that awful pumping machine
that kept the air in the mattress that kept her
as close to comfort as one can get
when one is dying piece-by-piece.
The machine gave its halting rhythm
to the slap-dash ritual of getting
her home before it was too late
to get her as home as one can get.
I remember turning off the machine,
pulling the first wracking sobs, and
welcoming that finality for her.
The machine is dead.
The motor has stopped.
There is no more.
Now, we cry and drink.
We lost the depth from our bones
we tossed death from our homes.
We lost the power of the touch
of that darkness-tempered acknowledgement
We need those worms in our souls
or we rot, un-composted.