The Holiday Of Death
On her wedding day night
she took off her white dress.
In the morning she cut it
into square piece on piece, took up
her needle while a bird sang
outside her shut window.
There was nothing she could do
to cheat the day she'd die
coming with the first child, or the fifth,
or the winter gone damp in her lungs,
the summer miasma out of the swamp,
or the cut half-cleaned gone rotten.
She began sewing her shroud,
on that first wedded day,
a duty she had, to be laid away
neat as a rose tight in white bud
though her skin grew rough, though her blood
too often ran red down her leg.
She hummed as she sewed
in the dim light she found
when the work of a dozen hours was done.
She stroked her shroud-dress, felt the holes
in the lace, the soft trapped space where beauty
was circled with a terminal grace.
When the night came
that death slipped in,
she sighed on her bed,
turned her face from her kin,
who'd finish for her the last hem stitch,
for she was on holiday from here on in.
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Images: The Happy Day, 1892, by Joaquin Sorolla (Detail) Public domain via wikiart.org
Effigy of a Young Woman, unknown graveyard, unknown source, via internet.