May Swenson

(May 28, 1913 – December 4, 1989 / Utah)

That the Soul May Wax Plump


My dumpy little mother on the undertaker's slab
had a mannequin's grace. From chin to foot
the sheet outlined her, thin and tall. Her face
uptilted, bloodless, smooth, had a long smile.
Her head rested on a block under her nape,
her neck was long, her hair waved, upswept. But later,
at "the viewing," sunk in the casket in pink tulle,
an expensive present that might spoil, dressed
in Eden's green apron, organdy bonnet on,
she shrank, grew short again, and yellow. Who
put the gold-rimmed glasses on her shut face, who
laid her left hand with the wedding ring on
her stomach that really didn't seem to be there
under the fake lace?

Mother's work before she died was self-purification,
a regimen of near starvation, to be worthy to go
to Our Father, Whom she confused (or, more aptly, fused)
with our father, in Heaven long since. She believed
in evacuation, an often and fierce purgation,
meant to teach the body to be hollow, that the soul
may wax plump. At the moment of her death, the wind
rushed out from all her pipes at once. Throat and rectum
sang together, a galvanic spasm, hiss of ecstasy.
Then, a flat collapse. Legs and arms flung wide,
like that female Spanish saint slung by the ankles
to a cross, her mouth stayed open in a dark O. So,
her vigorous soul whizzed free. On the undertaker's slab, she
lay youthful, cool, triumphant, with a long smile.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Form:


Do you like this poem?
1 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: wedding, father, pink, smile, mother, together, work, hair, green, heaven, wind, dark, death, believe

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (That the Soul May Wax Plump by May Swenson )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. "Mike Teavee...", Roald Dahl
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  5. If, Rudyard Kipling
  6. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  8. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  9. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  10. Tonight I can write the saddest lines, Pablo Neruda

Poem of the Day

poet Hilaire Belloc

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. Love, Carolyn Blackmon
  2. The Staff at Flagstaff Hospital, Kathryn Tyler King
  3. Dry Your Sorrows And Tears, Spiritwind Wood
  4. My Venus, Sandra Lynn
  5. Turn Around, Spiritwind Wood
  6. Stay True, Be You, Carolyn Blackmon
  7. Tagore Song (#10) I travel alone as lon.., Tushar Ray
  8. Give To Me, Spiritwind Wood
  9. Language of Flowers, The Princess is
  10. Do You Know Who I Am, Spiritwind Wood
[Hata Bildir]