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What Afterlife

Twilight might be called

    a gray scarf pulled over your lover’s eyes.

And the bicyclist’s body

    cutting swiftly through it

is a beautifully composed semaphore,

    like the shape meaning makes

in a set of signal lights

    at the end of a darkening runway:

two orange sticks crossed, then waving,

    motioning inward.

I should be telling you about fireflies,

    the containment of light, how we work

to bring it closer to us, into our bodies,

    into a glass jar with a screw-on lid

where it can shine and reverberate

    in the ever-thinning air. Instead

I think of my fifth summer,

    the day I lost one shoe

over the side of a sailboat,

    its sinking away from me

into the untreadable dark.

    The soul is composed

of infinite planets sucked into black holes

    and what comes out the other side—

light or its golden shadow—is each our own.

    Like those fishing boats

that ride out to the world’s curve each evening,

    their string of bobbing lamps

nothing more than an infirm constellation

    pinned to your child’s ceiling.

from Beautiful in the MouthFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Keetje Kuipers Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.