mortal poem 

we buy halloween costumes
even though it's almost august 
& there are few places to haunt.
i am a reaper & you are a vampire.
plastic sithe, plastic teeth.
both in black robes, i tell you
i want to show you a place.
it's night & neither of us
have a flashlight. all around
the ghosts are starting to slip out
of the dirt. ghost of a dead oak tree.
ghost of a coal miner. ghost of 
a speckled song bird. we blend right in
with our sauntering. you ask me
what it means 
to be dead & if somehow
we died without noticing.
i tell you i'm not sure. we both
have always sought out deceased company.
to test our skin we throw
rocks at each other. the rocks 
leave wide purpling bruises 
on our thighs & our chests.
we decide this means we aren't dead.
in myself, i think life is
a catrography of bruises. 
one rock was whitish & smooth.
i run to find it & discover
it is a deer skull. we hunch 
around the bone & the ghosts
of flowers bloom all around. 
i want to wear the skull
& you say you want to find 
a place to rest. 
we find coffins deep 
in the brush left 
by some real ghoul on his way
to the lake or maybe
collecting those 
black round berries.
pull the lids over our faces
& you knock on the side 
of your box so i knock 
on the side of mine. 
i say we could
float down the river in these.
i cross my arms over my chest.
my polyester costume smells 
like rubber dog toys & grass.
closing my eyes 
i imagine the sun rising 
on the forest. as i imagine it
so it happens & i pry the lid off
only to find you were never there.
your coffin, gone. the trees 
all looking up towards the sky.
the trickling of deer hooves
as an animal rushes  
out of sight. i take 
the long walk home
in my hot costume. i lay
the plastic sithe down
by the side of the trail.

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