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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 44-45

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When She Dies

When She Dies

I will keep nothing, not her box
of photographs or her sheet
music, not her books
or her rings, will not get down
on my knees and dig up
her American Beauty
and her Bird-of-Paradise.
The house she loves
will go to my sister,
her kids: the carpeted
hallways she walked
in her stocking feet, dangerous
glass-topped coffee table
she nicked her knee against.
Not her enamel tea pot, not a scarf
or a sock, a letter or a fork,
not a fireplace poker
or a grim set of chipped cups.
I want none of it, not one
thing she touched because
he may have touched it too,
his hands all over that house,
greasy fingerprints behind
the bureau, voice broken
in the pipes behind the walls,
silver hair clogging the drains;
his gray shaved stubble makes its
ghost face in every mirror. She chooses
to live there with the oil stain
seeping up through the driveway's [End Page 44]
earthquake cracks. I beg her
to leave, get an apartment, tell her
it's for her mental health, her
own damn good. But she insists
on being buried in the backyard
under the bottlebrush tree, stripling
she planted with a broken shovel.
I say What do you care?
You'll be dead. And still
the woman, bless her,
will not be moved.
Dorianne Laux has published four books of poems, the most recent of which, Facts about the Moon, is available from W.W. Norton. She is also the co-author of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W. W. Norton).



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