Lull in the Afterworld

The catfish are belly up and eyes bulging,
your bobber and line stock-still in the waveless
lake, your reflection unruffled and opaque
is watching you watch yourself. You are wishing
the sun weren’t so burning, the smell of skunk
cabbage not so biting, your feet not so swollen
in these worn rubber boots. In the afterlife,
there are no barn owl hoots at night, no yellow
warblers chirping, no stilt sandpiper whistles
in the morning fog. And then suddenly, it’s every noise
you’ve heard at once—hum of refrigerators, crickets,
yawns, card decks shuffling, squish of sneakers
against linoleum, click of a seatbelt to holder,
ocean waves against rock—and the catfish turn over
again as if they were only dreaming about back strokes,
the water rippling and lapping against the bank
and you’re wondering if that’s really your mother’s voice
singing along with a marching band—swing low, your chin
tipping up to the sky, sweet chariot—bugles calling out,
bicycle bells, percolating coffee, the snapping of bubble gum,
tire against tarmac, and still, you hearing the sound of her voice
like apples falling against the leaf-covered ground.

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