“After I Die” by Melody Lacina

Melody Lacina


Sell everything. Promise me
an auction, an old guy hollering
prices in a broken yodel,
his voice so rough you’d swear
he used to shuck corn
with his throat. Better yet
a yard sale. Strangers can finger
bowls and coats and wonder
why I ever bought them and whether
they would like them any better
marked a couple dollars down.
Don’t let the quilt go cheap—
Amish ladies in Iowa went blind
stitching it. The bedframe still folds
reluctantly into a sofa,
and anyone who wants a hard
mattress will not mind
how stiff the futon has grown.
Be sure the labels
on the sweaters from Venice
are showing. You know how
people will buy anything
Italian. Give away the books.

Burn the body. Keep the ashes
in a mayonnaise jar,
the way we used to hoard
lightning bugs until they stopped
glowing. When no one is watching,
tap out a handful of the ashes
on the beach at Limantour.
A slow crooked line
behind the tide, as if I were dragging
my toes, complaining how cold
the water leaves the sand.
Then buy plane tickets
with the yard sale money.
Pack the mayonnaise jar
carefully. Unwrap it in what was
my parents’ backyard to scatter
bone shards beneath the lilac bushes.
After that go to Spain, and don’t forget
the jar. Open it on the first
stone street above the cathedral
in Granada, where an old woman
fierce with her broom will not
look up. Drop what you have
left of me in front of her.
Ashes to dust. And always
someone sweeping.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006
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