Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Still Life with Gold

Nothing organic remains. Wooden caskets
cradle pomegranate beads, combs, earrings.

You are familiar with this ritual of adorning
flesh with ornaments that will outlast. Gold

diadems and crowns host two cicadas
and a bee. Untouched in plastic cases

they perch on gray velvet stands. The gods
the Greeks cherished, now cherish us,

our greedy stares and Protean desires. This
is what the earth chooses to preserve, what

it can’t use. Open tombs reveal strewn jewels
and dried fruit. You impose desire onto corpses

you can’t see. You love what you want them
to have been. This is just one version

of an afterlife. You leave to buy replicas
of bronze baubles that hung from each branch

of their bodies. You smell the faint aroma
of what they once parted their lips to taste.  

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