I Never Really Knew You: An Elegy

by Soeun Seo
It’s an actual job, professional funeral 
makeup artist. If she was so professional 
she’d have known you’d never glitter
quite like that. Cheeks freshman 
pink, fuschia lips livelier than I 
ever saw you alive. There is a wrong 
way to shine. The large glass 
partition supposedly prevents 
the living from pouncing on
the dead in sadness but no one 
really wanted to touch a corpse. 
I watched you get dolled up 
on a cot like an ad I wait to skip,
the one I don’t recognize what’s being 
sold but can only think of how nearly
naked the women are, the capitalist 
dimensions of twisting one’s torso.
You had something I never found 
out but I knew once a day
you drained your blood, got a new batch.
I thought of you as a vampire
waking from a coffin every day
to the silence of your one person
room. You’d run out to get caught
in a tide of noise in the common
room or the garden outside,
the crying, construction, polite 
death sentences, and stand in it
so long, you say I am afraid,
all pale like an extra piece of paper 
towel slipping from the counter.
Grandfather says you were such a kind
woman, never wanted anything, never
complained. You never wore makeup
and you were prude of it. I think 
you’d complain about the artist.