We’re using every bit of your death.
We’re making a vise of your mouth’s clenching and loosening,
an engine of your labored breathing,
a furnace of your wide-open eyes.

We’ve reduced you to stock, fed you to the crowd,
banked the pearl of your last anger,
stored the honey of your last smile.

Nothing’s left in your mirror,
nothing’s floating on your high ceiling.
We’re combing pockets, turning sleeves,
shaking out bone and ash,
stripping you down to desire.

Your beloved has folded your house into his—
I’m wading the swift river, balancing on stones.



(From Cold River, copyright © 1997 by Joan Larkin. Published by Painted Leaf Press, New York City. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any medium, print or electronic, without the author’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.)