came as we adjusted the body
in the refrigerator box, lifting the head slightly,
placing a second pillow beneath it
to make the pallid face more visible
Heading for the house, I stepped
over the black electrical cord
that snaked across the lawn,
around the gardenia bush,
and through the crack where the entry door
pivots on brass hinges.
From there I would be able to watch
the approaching children
and speak from the coffin
at just the right moment.
I feared the voice at the other end of the circuit.
A call in the afternoon
to a house I had not lived in for months
could not be good.
It was not.
I hung up, wondering
how to tell the boy and girl
busy dribbling ketchup
into the corners of the cadaver’s mouth.
The umber gourds gaped
as I searched for words
that were not necessary,
tears telling all.
Standing on the cobwebbed lawn,
we wept. A cotton ghost
twisted in the autumn breeze.
The corpse waited
for its costume to be completed,
which, in time, it was.
“Testing, testing. Help me. Help me,”
I intoned through the microphone, pleased
with the effect I produced at the back of my throat.
My mother would have loved it,
she being something of a jokester herself,
choosing this of all days
to leave this world.
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Copyright © 2008 by Bradley Steffens
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