Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FOREST LAWN, by KAREN SWENSON

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FOREST LAWN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Like an amusement park, the cemetery grounds
Last Line: Is death and reproduction.
Subject(s): Cemeteries; Death; Imitation; Graveyards; Dead, The

Like an amusement park, the cemetery grounds
are divided into themes.
Gardens of Memory, Babyland, Slumberland
look out over the valley where palms
punctuate the smog, standing on one leg
like molting, Disney waterbirds.

Turned to stone,
Norman Rockwell kids
snuggle each other
in the Great Mausoleum
on an overstuffed marble armchair,
while in the main hall
the curtain is pulled electronically
to display da Vinci's Last Supper
remade in stained glass.
A recorded voice
speaks to rows of folding chairs,
to silence as, in the stillness,
sun moves along marble thighs
of Playboy nymphs in the nude
who cavort and weep along
the dim hallways of the dead.

Under the vaulting mimicry
of this Gothic attic,
or outside among immigrations
of Italian cypress,
the American dead reside
in subdivisions,
their respectability established
by cloned guardian angels -
Michelangelo's David and The Little Mermaid
in this park whose theme
is death and reproduction.

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