If I opened my grandmother’s coffin would I see
still plush fingerprints
coral painted fingernails
her frail silver hair in curls
deep crow’s feet hugging her eyelids
or would I see bones
her folded hand holding a huddled spider
faded mortuary lipstick
skin patches the color of old photos
dust nestled in the cracks of her jaw? (Her dust fills my lungs.)
In her living room she had delicate lace curtains that never kept any light out.
Delicate lace like the gauze used for mummification
her crepe, pale skin.
By afternoon, the room was golden
we squinted at each other as if to say, Let the light in, let the dust show.
I can still hear her death rattle:
the high-pitch strangled wheeze in her strained breathing
as my father held the phone to her head in the hospice room.
My voice carried over copper wires to her ear that I would see her soon.
Daffodils lined her gravestone like a firing squad.
I thought about digging into her new bed,
squinting as I opened her coffin when a plume of dirt shot up.
The lid creaked, a gentle wheeze under the Earth’s weight.
I thought, Let the light in, let the dust show.
And I would lay down in it on the velvet pillow too.
I wanted to carve into her coffin
what Egyptian shamans wrote on the tomb for their king:
I fly up as a bird and I alight as a beetle.
But instead I muster: Death rattle no more.