Donna’s poetry about her journey with Jake is part of that fierce beauty, her own gift from the threshold:
Washing with rose otto and water,
anointing with frankincensed oil,
I caress the skin of his cold corpse,
talking as though he could hear.
Cloaking his body in pure white cotton
I let loose my hold.
I arrange this discarded outer garment
on a table of bed-sheet and ice,
drape the remnant of him
in shiny white silk,
bedeck it with evergreen boughs.
For three days, this body and I
sit together with our friends.
Some handle paperwork,
one procures ice,
most sleep through the night.
Some cook, all eat, one weeps, two joke.
We telephone, photograph, replay legends,
meditate on the difference
between a body and a life;
feel the vanishment.
We fold linen flaps over feet and face.
Wrap and tie four ribbons into thick white knots--
not too tight around the neck--
transmuting visage to memory.
We transport a package stowed
in the cargo compartment of a van.
Five cars caravan
up the freeway toward a meadow.
We walk the remains to a grave,
consign matter to earth,
a mortal’s final estate,
where it is taken under.
— Donna James
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