The Emperor of Ice Cream

To me this poem seemed to obviously be about the lives of those attending the funeral of a woman.  She is “cold” “dumb” and a “lamp [affixes] its beam.”  While this is happening, woman dress up to visit her and boys bring flowers, which they’ve wrapped in “last month’s newspapers (1993).”  Even the sheet that they attempt to cover the woman with cannot hide death.  If they put a sheet over her, her “feet protrude” “to show how cold she is” (1993).  The others at the funeral have two options.  They may go to the kitchen, where the small trivialities of life continue to happen, or they may go to the parlor, where the corpse lays.  The stanzas seem purposely separate, as if to show us that we must stay in the kitchen, however unwillingly.

What did the line, “let be be the finale of seem” to you?  This is perhaps the most significant line in the whole piece.  To me it meant: let the meaning of existance (be) what you do in comparison to the corpse, OR the small, changeable, sensual activities that may take only a second, and may contribute to your “finale” at any time, because what seems to be today may not be tomorrow.

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