matt pond PA

March 7, 2019

The Stars Are Never Sleeping.

There are two five-star reviews for the Ross Funeral home in Littleton, New Hampshire.

The first reads: “Compassionate family business.” The second is just stars.

The effusive reviewer’s surname is hyphenated, sharing half of the same name as the funeral home itself. (As an amateur sleuth, I sketch suspected nepotism with cartoon drawings of wafting aroma.)

Further searching reveals that this individual seems to leave a star rating and succinct review for everything that happens in his life. Every single outing, every single experience. He seems to be alive — and consequently, I am fascinated by the celestial totality of his reviewing a funeral home.

From science to songs — it’s true, it’s true — we are all made of stardust. Perhaps this is how we get back to the garden: by applying stars to our mortal confines. Fine, count me in.

My coffee table gets two stars. (It’s better than the one-star table I built when I first moved to Kingston. Unsanded plywood top, four-by-four legs. It couldn’t hold onto anything without shaking in fear. Frankly, I wouldn’t have even given it one star, but apparently that isn’t an option.)

Jim and Cass from down the street gave me my two-star coffee table because of my one-star abomination. I’m not above a free anything. But then Jim and Cass brought it up every time I ran into them. It became a loose yet repeating monologue, beginning with how they always tried to nurture struggling artists. And then they would veer into talk of their magic children, their magic dog and their magic life.

After pushing it one speech too far in the farmer’s market I quit using coasters, the white water stains illustrating my silent, chickenshit protest. (I participate in a variety of personal chickenshit protests every day. Thank you.)

A few feet beyond, the fireplace. Three stars. While I have enjoyed some amazing evenings lolling on my stomach and watching the Philadelphia 76ers, morning brings the reality of soot and debris. Some point out that this is the give-and-take of our fair universe. Some prefer to bicker in cockney accents.

I’ve thought of reviewing funeral homes. But I’ve never had the nerve. I feel like the only people who could sufficiently rate a funeral home are dead. We still hold this passing as something sacred. A long life is full of survival and secret knowledge; a short life is a hydronalium flash bulb, sorrowful and brilliant. There is a plane of existence or non-existence where nothing can be defined, no science or opinion or class can establish rules or boundaries. It is incredible that we get to have these lives. It is perfect poetry that we don’t get to keep them. That is, until the stars take over everything.