The beauty school on Brighton Lane
spills pink-smocked girls at twelve o’clock.
They blossom cigarettes and talk,
pluck lilacs from the parish green
and plant them in their hair for spring. But the bells of St. Columbkille’s clang
and Brighton mourners dim the street,
with roses on the hearse’s seat
to take them to the grave. And all the novice scissors stop,
and all the young beauticians hold
to see the rosewood in the cold
be taken to the grave. Lady, in the flower I hear the bell
the green tongue tolls, and in the swell
of young girls’ breasts I hear the sound
that stills the city to the ground
and makes the shurring scissors shut
and stops the lover as he woos.
It’s death undying is our muse.

Articles by Joseph Bottum

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