memento mori
remember that you shall die
as if I ever forget
as if my mind
doesn’t wander off
across gray fields
to stand next to my
undecorated grave
in effort to understand why
as if I don’t hypothesize about
the brave and noble deed
I’ll do or the peaceful
midnight of my eighty-sixth birthday
when I will get up
and walk through walls
as if I don’t
when standing in the shower
or washing the dishes
invite the image of
sitting on top of
my own coffin and looking
out at the sea of mournful faces
and broken hearts
then remember
that I cannot climb back into
that skin inside the box
that I cannot
after seeing all that
go back again
and you just said
memento mori?
remember that I shall die?
how could I ever forget?

Shannon M. Turner
originally published Fall 1995
in The Ampersand, Emory & Henry College’s literary magazine