For three days we sat vigil,tethered to your chest’s rise and fall.
By then, we’d dimmed the lights,entombed your room in silence.
Outside, the acolytes gathered.They had journeyed …
For three days we sat vigil,
tethered to your chest’s rise and fall.
By then, we’d dimmed the lights,
entombed your room in silence.
Outside, the acolytes gathered.
They had journeyed seventeen years
tunneling up through mud, surviving
only on sap sucked from roots.
Shedding their nymph-skins, the imagos
unfurled translucent wings,
clambered up the craggy bark
of ash and oak, and chanted
their devotion. Timbrels lifted in percussive
ululation, a raspy drone—crescendo, caesura—
keeping time with your chest’s heave
and ho, your lungs a weakening billows.
For three days their chorus filled the air,
measure after measure, until your last
agonal breath, until you, too, shed
your carapace of bone and skin.
For weeks, I picked their crisp husks
from tree trunks, crunched them underfoot,
willed myself to believe you had simply thrown off
your lesser body and, sap rising, burst
into being under a kinder canopy.