Your figure looks younger than it is.
A story I’ll dissect in days and weeks to come,
until I know by heart every syllable.
Candy apple gloss on your fingers and toes
glams of anything but death.
A night two-stepping in San Antonio,
painted coyly, knowingly for the part.
Before your third and final stroke cuts the party short.
Before I take your formalin-perfumed hand
and begin our pas de deux.
You more than death’s breadth and length,
figment of forces binding the universe.
Particles comely, tireless, restless in repose.
Wisdom’s body breathing years on in all I touch.
My hand trembles, hesitates at your dismantling.
Of candy apple gloss not quite cochineal.
Not quite vermillion—closer to courage.
Blood, long drained from your veins.

Dick Altman writes at 7,000 feet in Santa Fe, where reality and imagination often blur. His work appears here and abroad. He is a poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition. His first collection of poems, Voices in the Heart of Stones, is being considered for publication.