Death Dresses


A Death Doula?
these words come with cop
cars; hot frantic alarms


The little girl inside
me grew up
had kids
died in your bed.

This town ain’t big enough

for the both of us anyway
the he/him beard and my

little ponies

I was there as much as I could be

but that’s not true.
a face painted with hair
consents to rhinestones at the edge of

someone else’s reflection

they/them cast spells with mascara wands in secrecy

always had pigtails to play with
dreamed of being a sniper over cherry pie
and buttercups gathered from wet football fields

in helmets that never fit.

There is no absolute

difference between us.

As a man I’ve had rites of silence and

boneshackled foresters; blood meridians,

swimsuit editions.

I had idols with gruff voices, bubblegum cards,

stats, body armor. A battlefield. A legacy of


Death dresses in silks,

oils lifted from altars by soundless fire
says the words
Lapis Lazuli
in reference to maternity
cracks an egg into cake batter
plucks flame from your candle as though it were a flower

as though it were a harp string inside a womb.

I have been built to carry bodies

but who is to say I have the hands for that?


S. Preston Duncan is a caregiver, End of Life Doula, and BBQist in Richmond, Virginia. Recent aspirations include becoming the Jason Isbell of literature, stealing Death’s laughter, and transcendental pimento cheese. He is the former Senior Editor of arts and culture publication, RVA Magazine. His poetry has appeared or been selected to appear in Tulane Review, Circle Show, Levee Magazine, Unstamatic, Coffin Bell Journal, *82 Review, the Yardstick Books “Water” anthology, and elsewhere.



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