Reciprocity

By Peter Halstead

In nature, mimesisMimics the featuresOf its favorite pieces;But en garde, creatures:It knows how to edit,Reflecting its view—
If you forget it,It forgets you.

Explanation

Many creatures in nature, from bugs to butterflies, have chameleonic abilities to take on the coloration of their predators or their surroundings. Language is a chameleon itself, easily assimilating its environment.
I had gotten a gravesite mailing: “A Tradition Begins.” Actually, I’d say that might be where tradition ends. The brochure mentioned “aboveground entombment”; i.e., a mausoleum, which sounds like an oxymoron: how can you be “buried” above the ground? Are you or aren’t you?
And complete with “incredible ocean views” and “feng shui settings.” Death should be proud. It is now your last chance for exclusivity. The Dakota for the dead.
And you can be buried next to “international dignitaries”! Maybe not international by then. Unless they walk abroad by night.
“Perpetual care provided.” Who provides it? Dracula? How can we be sure? Maybe a bit of dusting until “Estates L’estat” fall behind on their taxes. Today’s cemetery is tomorrow’s subdivision. We’ve all seen Poltergeist. Call me cynical.
“100 years of experience.” So it’s serviced by geriatrics?
Originally the poem was filled with daisies, forget-me-nots, and distant views from the grave, which I was sorry to see leave, stems drooping, in favor of a less passionate, more legalistic approach. It is related to the poem “Tombstone,” which I wrote at the same time, and which, in a spasm of morbidity, I include also in this volume.

Kailua
December 15th, 2002