After my cardiac arrest,
the cardiologist said, you’re lucky,
you were dead for a few minutes.
That’s something, but I’m still not sure what.
Being dead was a blank,
which, lately, I’ve taken as an invitation
to fill in my afterlife.
In it, I ask a dodo bird for forgiveness
and watch that river of passenger pigeons
Audubon watched for days.
I relish seeing aurochs and great auks
and, oh, so many plants and tree leaves
I’ve seen only as fossils in museums.
And just one glance
at the Lord God Bird is paradise.
In my afterlife, I finally know
control has nothing to do with me.
And everyone’s “I” is lower case,
fully human, as we never could be
when we were alive,
always shoving love out where it most belonged.
Cruelty will at last be seen for what it is—
a choice we make when no understands
who anyone else really is.
In my afterlife, all the dead in me
are waiting for my postponed arrival.
I so much want to have them
all around me—
my grandfather pouring melted lead
into sinker forms for spring fishing,
my aunt and grandmother clicking away
at one of those crochet pieces
I find in all the drawers of my parents’ house,
and my parents, of course, still bickering
over the smallest things,
and keeping each other alive.