The First Twinkle of Death
If I run fast enough
when I die
I can become a kite—
an armless ghost with renewed wit.
I will finally appreciate
the rareness of this divided earth
because I will have no throat.
I'll fly over Christmas Eve
packed with Catholics doing pirouettes for Mary.
I'll fly over the geometry of Greece
dotted with temples and ancient nudity.
I'll fly over a sky burial in Tibet
crowded with buzzards
filled to the brim with human femurs and eyeballs.
I'll fly past news satellites
and the moon with its American flag and golf balls.
I'll make faces at the camera on Mars.
But I won't get trapped in any orbit—
I'll keep moving forward
because the fun of being dead
is in the flying.
A million hearts roll in
on the waves,
knock into each other on the beach.
There are Nazi hearts, sparrow hearts,
elk hearts, dancer hearts,
None of them beat in time.
In the afternoon,
a dead pirate kisses my shoulder.
His skin is delicate
like a blue corsage from 1927
flattened in a family bible.
But even in this state of decay
he is a wonderful swimmer.
He has come from the mermaid cemetery
to teach me how to read
the good-byes tattooed on every heart.
He stuffs a pillow with seals—
while they pull me all the way to Nantucket.
In the evening,
I see him far down the beach
but the closer I get
the smaller he becomes
until he jumps into a shampoo bottle
and is carried away on the waves.
I'm too scared to jump in
and swim after him
so he just laughs and waves goodbye.
Cindy R. Goff holds an MFA from George Mason University. Her poetry has appeared Exquisite Corpse, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Her books of poems are Appalachian Flood (2009) and The Gods of Greenery (forthcoming in 2011).