“Drawing Dead is when a poker player has absolutely no chance to win a hand, no matter what card is dealt next.”
First, you were flushed with Embalming’s garish
glow, blood-bluffed, then parched of edema
to be made-familiar by the corpse artist who shuffled
light to blur the waxy sheen of decay.
I had just learned about the color wheel in cosmetology school,
so imagined the undertaking it must’ve been to cancel the yellow
bilirubin of your skin with the same shade of purple
as the Crown Royal bag where I hid my tarot cards
when I was young and still betting blind to be my father’s daughter.
The funeral home felt chintzy, all inclusive, down to the artificial
carnation placed in the coat pocket of your charcoal suit.
Every pit boss & poker dealer who’d worked for you came to weep
at the casket where your mouth curtsied freakish,
but the spatula and acetone could not fool me into folding.
After the viewing, your wife twisted
herself into the red creases of the curtains, until she vanished,
until she was only a sobbing sound.
As if she was still wound in your plum-tongue, vigilant
for tells, still committed to her hand, dealt 26 years earlier.
I was jealous of the mortician who had dusted your knuckles
with the blushed lie of aliveness — at their luck to have
been the last to wager against your death with tincture.