Postcards From the Afterlife

— Kelli Russell Agodon

It’s another Sunday and I’m crying
      about all the things I never lost, but could.
      My neighbors are waking and falling

in love with the sunrise while I am watching
      my wounds emerge over the Cascades—
      a sort of broken skyscape of bruises

blooming in the color of melancholy.
      Mornings are salty reminders I’m in
      the crossover from living to not wanting to

carry the pain, foolhardy in my belief
      the ache will stop being
      an ache. Someone in my home is laughing

and I am hazard lights in the living room
      on a road too treacherous to drive.
      Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one

who looks at the waxwings on the sumac
      and sees the one whose wing
      is slightly broken, askew—I live in a sideways

glance pointing towards dying. But I know
      this year has been difficult for anyone
      who is breathing, not just those who exist

a few degrees below the optimal temperature
      for optimism. Science is killing
      our earth. Police officers are killing

the unarmed. Strangers are killing
      our police. The sixteen-year-old girl
      who made it through childhood cancer

was blown away at a mall last night,
      and some people see the beauty
      of who survived, and some people thank God,

thank goodness, thank the universe, thank
      the friend who called five minutes before
      asking them to go to coffee. But what I see

are the vampires of the morning, the blood
      in the makeup section was the same
      color as the Chanel lipstick. We apologize

to our children for this world
      because the crusts are not cut off,
      and I am not arguing that we need

longer lives, I am simply ready
      to debate the length of time
      some of us get here, some of us

who don’t want to be here, who want to
      be here writing postcards to the afterlife,
      our sadness is causing the sea to rise,

I mean, my God, we have so many tears.

Read more from Issue No. 13 or share on Twitter.