The funeral home is in the old neighborhood.
Once it was a bastion of Anglo-Europeans.
Now, it has evolved into decrepitude,
because of the influx of poor Hispanics.
Taco joints, and thrift stores abound on the main street.
I see humble businesses, currency exchanges, and pawn shops.
The once clean gutters are now filled with trash.
The few "white skins" who are left,
are now stooped over and elderly.
They shuffle along glancing furtively.
They look like frightened birds.
I park my car where it won't get smashed.
I heave open the door of the death house,
and my olfactory senses are greeted by funeral home odors of:
mustiness, the sweet smells of flowers,
and freshly brewed coffee.
I sign the book and take a prayer card to add to my collection.
I greet family members and people I don't know.
I say: "sorry for your loss", "sorry for your loss",
"sorry for your loss", "sorry for your loss".
Then I kneel at the casket and view what once was my friend.
The wax, doll-like features of his face, resemble him.
But I know he is not in there.
I've done this ritual hundreds of times before.
I've seen the rosaries in the hands.
I've seen the family pictures, the awards, the photos.
I've studied the rememberances of a life well-spent or mis-spent.
Then I think of my own mortality.
I quickly dispell these thoughts for other notions.
Then I look at the young women.
I take in their inviting flanks and ample breasts.
I notice their makeup and breathe in their perfumes.
They are alive.
And so am I.
But someday we will be old and dead.
So I leave the old neighborhood.
I choose not to go to the bar,
where the young women and men will sit.
They will laugh and flirt.
They will drink and lose their inhibitions.
Later, some will make hot, spontaneous love.
And I ponder these things on my way back to suburbia.
And I think of my days of youth,
And then I enter my home.
And I say my prayers this night,
in respect for the dearly departed.
And I think of my friend.
I think of us when we were young.
And I feel more alone.