What Becomes a Ghost?
Elisa Karbin/ Number 95
No thickening of the air
when met with last breath
nor convulsive clutch toward
some othered orphic veil—
……..This, I know with quartz-
What of me will persist, then,
after the long crawl, once
artifacts of my being have been
and been set into boxes, left
curbside to dampen and molder
to ash and my body is stilled
and kiln-fed, made too to ash—
……..on this, I am unclear.
Go back to the before:
to the pre-death, the warm
skin covering the infrared blood.
The bed and the gold kitchen
light; cats curled at my hip and
the living hum in my breast,
my body, mapped circuit of living
heat, my body, this unlipped
entropic bowl. …….I know
the bounded vessel cannot hold.
We must understand we are
small cups, brimfull on a spinning
tray, our every faintest ripple recorded
in the atmosphere itself, our every
moment balanced, a stroke chalked
toward the inevitable upending.
You ask what becomes a ghost—
if heat leaves traces, let us say heat.
Elisa Karbin is the author of the poetry chapbook Snare and her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, West Branch, Notre Dame Review, and Blackbird, amongst others. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at The University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. Visit her online at www.elisakarbin.com.Image by Tertia van Rensburg