A Death in the Time of Facebook
The day Melissa Haegarty died
I was writing a poem about death.
You can buy a coffin at Wal-Mart
for less than a thousand dollars, it said.
Underground Lucy sleeps, waiting for a new name.
When I got the call I stopped what I was doing,
to check her FaceBook account.
People were burying her on-line.
We’ll miss you. May you rest in a peace that is sudden and unimaginable.
I didn’t write anything. I didn’t answer any more calls.
In primitive cultures they believe death is an evil spirit, temporarily possessing you.
Family runs away from the dead so they won’t get caught.
Melissa’s Funeral will be next week at St. Mary’s Chapel.
Tell your friends to join us. Everyone is welcome. Someone posted.
Outside of Moscow archaeologists found a whole community buried in one place,
covered in ivory funeral beads, resting in the ice and snow.
At another early site a man was found lying face up,
at the side of his corpse the fragments of a flower.
From all they can tell, he was clawed to death by a bear.
Melissa died on a treadmill. Her family was outside planting in the garden.
I thought about roses. Ivory funeral beads.
The oration of rivers singing the dead to sleep.
In some cultures they kiss the living, and drink all night.
They wail and wail in public and put ashes all over the face.
That night I had a single bottle of Blue Moon, alone, and fell asleep early.
I woke up in the middle of the night to check FaceBook again, and make sure it hadn't been a dream.
According to her profile, the last message Melissa had written to anyone
was to me.
Happy Birthday, she had said.
Maybe next year we’ll see each other again.
Melissa was dead. I would never see her again, unless the ancient Maya were right.
They used to dig up their dead seven years after the fact,
And the Irish still hold wakes, hoping life will return.