You burn me in your lime-kiln
without a twinge of conscience.
Bone regards bone through sweeps
of prehistory impossible
to conceive. You toss your streaked
rusty hair and tip an iced glass
of vodka from your native land,
that nation of ill-fitting suits
and dentistry without Novocain.
You observe the blue flame boiling
from the kiln, the smoke flushing
the night sky a sickly purple.
Didn’t Hawthorne identify
the ultimate sin? Your townhouse
rattles like a box of candy
as my vacated spirit hustles
up through the chimney to trace
the flight of my sorry ashes.
The chunk of lime left cooling
in the kiln looks clean enough
to atone for whatever crimes
you like to think I’ve committed.
Yes, I’d like another vodka.
But I think we should continue
our discussion in a minor key
on some other winter evening
when you’re not quite so eager
to mortar me into silence
with a handful of my cremains.