“Unprepared for the Afterlife” by Howard Rosenberg

Howard Rosenberg

UNPREPARED FOR THE AFTERLIFE

He pulls the knife out of my corpse, rinses
off blood, skin, bone, shock—they clog
the sink’s strainer. I can’t empty it. Anger
erupts, Vesuvius; my translucent form
inflates. I still hover in the same place.
Why can’t I move? I can see but can’t
close my eyes: I don’t have any. He turns
toward me. “No!” I shout without a mouth.
He hurries through me. For an instant,
I swallow him. He peeks at the street,
grabs my wrists, drags my body to the door.
Stop! It’s mine.” He opens the door, glances
left, right, pulls my carcass into the corridor.
The door shuts. Grief wraps me in its mist,
my shroud, now a straitjacket. Someone
bangs on the door. “Who is it?” I scream
in my silent voice. “It’s me,” I whisper.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
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