she says burn everything

for A.H.

She’s tired of finding bodies
in beds or bathtubs, innocent
and empty until memory fills them.
Whether she heard the last breath
or missed it isn’t the point.

She didn’t choose this,
the cleanup afterwards,
the telephone calls,
the scattering of what was owned
heavier than ashes
and left behind.

She’s tired of responsibility
sorting through a life cluttered at her feet
simply because she was there
to wipe dust from the reminder
that what we keep stays long after us.
The Egyptian kings had it right,
she says, burying everything
with the mummy to use in the underworld,
as only souls are weighed on that scale
to assess innocence;
nothing else of what is brought
important in that measure.

Better yet, in suttee
burn the house, the 
too-big
or too-small fabric
rainbowing the closet; brighter
than the 40-year-old
kindergarten fingerpaintings
in a box under the bed;

the bank accounts, the bills,
the estate lawyers, the losing
of those last hours.  Burn it all
and walk away empty,
free, nearly weightless
as only what’s dead can be.

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to she says burn everything

  1. Ray Sharp says:

    fantastic, so strong and elegant

    • Thank you, Ray. I find it odd that viewing someone else’s experience from the outside, even while close to it and them, can coalesce your own experience of loss and cleanup afterwards.

  2. Very powerful. Such a stark interpretation. Love it.

  3. doncarroll says:

    really dig the last stanza !!

  4. nelle says:

    In the same spirit…

  5. BroadBlogs says:

    Ah, I feel so free now, with it all burned away.

  6. wow – you made “burn everything” an anthem

  7. The loved dead
    weigh like lead
    before the hollow
    in the soft featherbed
    I now share with pain

    How can emptiness
    weigh this much?

    Flames will burn
    but they will thaw
    neither my heart nor my head
    full and still filling up
    with pain unweighable
    but dense like cold lead

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