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The mortician stitches
the seams so they are unseen,
paints over any mistake with makeup.
Everyone notices how unnoticeable
the wounds are.

When I offer sympathies
should I knock or ring the bell?
What kind of bouquet should I bring?
There is such a thing as
the wrong kind of flowers.

Condolences are a warm knife
Sympathies hang like a breath in cold air.
Loss and grief are very different things.

Loss is a refinery fire.
Grief, the oil slick,
is a process, they say,
which means you’ll never
reach the end
you’re running toward,
but you’ll get in great shape.

I’ve never lost anything
of grave importance,
but run to the florist
on the way to a wake

who recommends fake flowers ,
they're always thought of in bloom

No Mention of Roof or Floor

The door opens to a window.
Out the window
another door.

This house has no walls,
still I have the habit of
walking through

thresholds, looking out glass,
a tradition passed down
through generations, like

how I hold my whiskey
with three fingers.

The construct of door
and window only lead
to more

and more passages.
I close my eyes
but dull light leaks

through the shutters.
In the faux gloaming
I fumble

for a handle, where
is my door?

Peter William Stein is a Minnesota poet and a father of four sons and an active member of the League of Minnesota Poets. His poems have been published in such places as The Edge Magazine, Altered Scale, the Zumbrota Crossings Poet and Artist Collaboration, and The Talking Stick Vol. 23. He has participated in readings at coffee shops, art galleries, a book store, a basement, a funeral chapel, and has written under a bridge on a typewriter while riding a seesaw and eating cake in the middle of the night.

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