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.