I drop the phone, a siren of death,
and watch it explode into a jigsaw of plastic pieces.
My grandmother told me that in her village, she
wore white to funerals, chanted nails-thick verses,
and prayed at mouth-wide monstrous altars.
Later, the rituals became sharp-tongued chants
and thrummed mirrors in closets. Someone screamed,
I think it was me. I cannot sidestep grief,
punched with inch-wide block font.
You must stand straight, my mother says.
No one wants to see a Cassandra in mourning.
It’s a chance to get a second look at her. The pressed
ivory dress with stockings to match, pearl drop earrings, and
alabaster lace gloves: the smell of sweet smooth sandalwood.
And I, a discipline of funerals, materialize. In my
tight throat, the sounds collate: give me a ten-letter word