Bathroom Stall

They couldn't bury him because the ground was frozen
so they put him in a jar instead. Like mother, like father,
like son. Some of us spend our entire lives listening
for crickets in winter, barely surviving the thaw
like wild plastic flowers, family ashes in an hourglass
destined for a closet.

The priest coughed for silence, cupped his hands, then
offered us a sneak-peak into the afterlife. He told us we will
not all die, that we will be changed at the last trumpet.
But in the meantime we will always be the same.
And all it takes is a séance in the snow, an avocado browning
on the table, or a sip of wine to redefine our visions of eternity.

Your frown plowed the road and lead the procession to a
supper club outside of town. Never mind God, beer
or football, this is where people really close their eyes
to pray. We sat down to plates of cold prime rib next to
lost relatives in sweaters, a bingo cage pushed into a corner.
Someone started clanking a glass for the sake of noise
while everyone went around and droned the same few words
memorized from black-and-white movies.

So I slipped away
underneath the table to where the carpet was green
and I was nicotine in a bathroom stall, blowing smoke into
water, I kept the flame alive just to watch it climb toilet paper.
A snake on fire whispered something in my ear I want to
remember like my second kiss or my first nightmare. Now
I'm smeared in lipstick shadows and hotter than a fever
with visions of ivory ribbons teaching marionettes
how to walk through mud, wondering where, O death,
is your victory.

Chad Weeden lives in Charlotte, NC. His work has appeared in The Iodine Poetry Journal and is forthcoming in Kakalak and The Main Street Rag.

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