Surrounded by family, I buried
myself in a white cotton blouse,
slid my eyes shut with the tips
of my fingers, the other hand
clutching a dog-eared novel.

There is nothing harder than burying yourself,
surrounded by family, and watching them nod
in turn as their eyes glaze over
and fix at a point on the horizon.

The twitch in my father's jaw
whispered that he would have shed a tear,
if only on principle,
but my mother's white knuckles
where she grasped his shoulder screamed
to hell with principle.

In the corner of my muted heart,
I could not help but laugh—
principle would have laid me in this coffin
if I hadn't, first.