The Poet’s Coffin

By Mary Ellen Talley

let the grief-stricken 
peruse library shelves to select                                                                                                                                              one memento mori – gather

to toast the poet
in simile
and extended metaphor –  gather    
and layer remaining books on carpet
in tightly woven frame during
dusk to dawn wake – gather

first edition hardbacks
with biodegradable glue to form
a cadaver-sized container – gather

paperbacks full of penciled marginalia
to cushion
the eternal inside – gather

then discard all tucked away files
filled with first drafts or letters
of rejection – gather

and slant layers of loose poems
in the poet’s favorite font before inserting
the long body – gather

papyrus fibers to shroud
surround poet’s face and hands with bundles
of fresh lilacs – gather

the poet’s own letters of acceptance
scroll and tie with ribbon to tuck
as if a crown of juxtaposed syllables – gather 

penny nails to tap the semantic casket
gently shut while lightly scented mourners chiding
end-stopped lives continue to – gather