The Embalmer – Stella Wulf

The Embalmer

It’s a dead end job, they delight in telling me.
I laugh, pretend it’s the first time I’ve heard it,
but it’s an inescapable paradox,
the dead are my living.

We don’t choose life; like death it chooses us,
and when it does they say, that’s life,
I hope they had a good innings?
I don’t speak of the knocked-down child,
the beaten wife, the broken boy,
all the lost beginnings.

I’m charged with their afterlife
the slow letting of their being. The body
washed clean of pain and rigour,
I preserve their essence, infuse them
with solicitude. It’s an undertaking of love.

There is beauty in death, it’s an arrangement
that goes with the living. I resurrect
the warm flush of life to death’s pallor,
apply the illusion of sleep, the merest ghost
of a dream, the pathos of a long goodbye.

And when I step outside to meet with life
in all it’s throb and colour, its eternal impulse
and revolution, its magnificent insignificance,
death holds my hand.

Stella has a deep love of the natural world and a passion for politics, and the human condition—themes that she explores in her poetry. She is co-editor of 4Word Press. Her first pamphlet, After Eden, was published in

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