Burial Rites

by  Mary Christensen


If you were Comanche
I’d bury your body in
an upright position
 
though you were found in
an armchair already sitting,
one leg propped atop the
coffee table
 
the Navajo used to knot
their dead in trees far off
from villages
 
but I would like to keep you
close and the only trees nearby
are desert saplings planted
in roadside medians
 
I do not have the time to be
Apache and rid the house of
your belongings, yet
 
I have always wanted to burn
the things you hoard, to watch
piles smolder and disappear
that would take years
 
you do not have
to be Sioux for me to paint
your face the color of life
a nice bright red, the lipstick
you swore was blush
 
and for a while I’ll be Choctaw,
not saying your name in fear
I’ll disturb your nap
until I forget
 
that you are Cherokee wanting
to return to your motherland,
but mailing bodies across state
lines is expensive
 
I have three days to bury you