Clean and Pretty
It becomes familiar, the taste of a household
being dismantled. All its shifts revealed:
the squalid corners no guest ever sees,
materials for home repairs, knitting projects,
collections, crafts botched and put away;
beads in little vials, paints dried in the tube,
curtains to be hemmed.
They all smell the same at last:
the mildewed paper and the rancid dust,
stiff glue, spilled oil, rotting silk.
Death will seize them and show them grinning
to your heirs. They are his trophies, not yours:
your children will flinch away from them.
Oh, throw away your life before you die.
Don't leave it to be groped by estate salers,
to be peeled and sorted by dealers in junk;
don't wait for it to be given
to dirty indifferent fingers to stroke.
Put on fresh underwear, just as your mother said:
go clean and pretty to your early death.