Elegy Between Middle Age and Death
By Trina Porte
Say aloud all the names of those who've ever loved me—
even if we haven't spoken in years or they are
long dead themselves or I am dead to them,
lodged in their vault of anger
like forgotten bones bleached white
from so many lost touches no longer adorning
this once precious flesh.
Put my dead body—or what's left after the good parts,
if any remain, have been donated to help
someone keep living as long as
they vow not to hurt anyone (as if that
were possible for a human being
or any breathing creature not to do)
Put what is left of me into the earth or the ocean—
I always loved the ocean because it is
continually raging, massively beautiful,
stronger than all mankind, and touches everywhere.
Or put me into the compost heap if that is where
my beloved ex-wife will lay down her remains
with the last of her garden's sustenance and
her silent love and her raucous laughter, and there
we will remain remains ever after.
There, let the rain raft us to the roots of a flower or
the body of a worm digesting chocolate-rich dirt
who becomes lunch in the belly of a reptile
or amphibian because I dearly loved the snakes,
the turtles, minuscule red efts, and especially the frogs—
their amazing internal antifreezing winter hibernations,
and unending shrill singing that defined each spring's arrival.
Yes, put me there in eternal lovely muddy singing spring.
First published in Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose, and Pride (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2019)
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