by Kelly Madigan Erlandson
Earth Behind Me, Blue and Bright
Reject the tunnel told by others,
the finish of radiant beams, the beloved
escort, the arms of mother.
Let imagination be the vehicle for dying.
Let’s say it is a dog shaking water from her coat,
who wets the clothes of those who stand here, crying.
Or maybe it could be the campfire’s sound
when the men who built it rise to move along
and douse it from above. Or a song sung in rounds
that always begins again as soon as it is ending.
A crate of pheasants hatched and old enough
to be released into the fields. We think of it as sending,
the way we get from one place to another,
the transport of the special DNA or Higher Self
we picture as eternal. It could be a hand that smothers
or a tamping down until we can’t be found.
We want a grander place, the brush with God!
But at the grave we cannot help but eye the mound
of dirt, though it is covered by a tarp, and worry
over its weight and density. Let’s say the end
is clay mixing with water, a slurry
of our insoluble parts. Or the church bells
just before the clapper strikes. A lowering
of rope into a cavern, the smell
of minerals, the wheeze of your own breath.
It’s opening a book, or falling forward,
it’s death biting the tail of its own death.
-originally appeared in Apalachee Review