Afaa Michael Weaver
Grabbing Lunch in the Morgue

It took three bologna sandwiches, a pickle, one slice 

of banana bread to get her ready for the families that came 

to see what happened to the relative they lost somehow, 


the bodies she kept chilled while they hardened, waited 

for the hearses, the morticians smiling, making bad jokes 

about the fat lady they dropped on the floor one night. 


The families come just after the Coca-Cola made her burp, 

opening the door to the cabinet so they can see how naked 

death is, none of the things we accumulate beside us, 


none of the failures, the prizes, the big houses, no thing

in itself, while whatever memories they had are somewhere

where dreams go and die. When peering eyes of parents wet, 


then burst into the floods of sorrow, she stares at nothing, 

the bright glow in the skylight under morning clouds, and 

when they are gone she presses the door closed, her hands


holding each other, her arms in a bow like a hammer, 

some nights the up and down of making light of putting 

the dead away comes up on her in a sudden rush of rage. 


She stands there slamming the door, clasped hand 

in clasped hand, arms connected like a bow now steel

in a broad protest against why we cannot keep the ghost. 



Found In Volume 45, No. 05
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Afaa Michael Weaver
About the Author

Afaa Michael Weaver is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including Like the Wind, a translation of his work into Arabic by Wissal Al-Allaq. Also a playwright, he has received NEA & Pew fellowships, a Fulbright award to teach in Taiwan, a Pushcart prize, the May Sarton Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His newest book of poems is The Government of Nature.