NOTES ON RECIPROCITY

This poem started as a tombstone threat: You forget me, now I forget you.  I had gotten a gravesite mailing: "A Tradition Begins," about "aboveground entombment," i.e., a mausoleum, complete with "incredible ocean views" and "fend shui settings" for the lucky dead, which I found endlessly amusing.  A tradition begins: perhaps of signing your teenagers up for graves?  "Congratulations: you have been chosen for burial by your parents."  Death is certainly a tradition.  Death should be proud.  It is now the front runner for exclusive interment.  Be buried next to "international dignitaries."  Maybe not international at the moment.  Maybe they switch sites by night.  "Perpetual care provided."  How can we be sure?  Perpetual death, maybe, with sporadic dusting until the "burial estates" fall behind on their taxes.  Today's cemetery is tomorrow's subdivision.  We've all seen poltergeist.  Call me cynical.  "100 years of experience."  Who does the work, the vampire Lestat?

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 guarded scientific approach.  It is related to the poem Tombstone, which I wrote at the same time.

Kailua December 15, 2002