After Life and In Between by Christina Stoddard

When you ask again if I believe in ghosts,
insisting I commit, I answer with
a vision my cousin had two summers ago
in Canyonlands. She was beaten

by a prisoner on work-release, her voice disabled,
drifting out, when our grandmother—
sixteen years gone—appeared above her. Solid
as the trees. Without an ounce of tenderness

our grandmother said Get up, girl. My cousin
does not remember crawling to the road
but a minivan found her stretched across
its lane. A family wrong-turned

in an unmarked branch of the park. The driver
used my cousin’s walkie to guide the helicopter,
and she woke from the coma
saying our grandmother’s name.

While you half-listen, I can see you arranging
your argument. The steely pearl
of your intellect. But my love,

you have never lain bleeding on any ground.
And there are things I knew
before I knew you. Which is why
I never told you what happened last spring

while the dogwoods bloomed,
a few nights after some god’s hand fished inside me
for the heart that was growing there

and plucked it out. In grief
I opened my eyes to a little girl, four or five,
standing quietly beside our bed. She held my hand.

If I thought you would listen, I would tell you
she was almost ours. That before she
vanished, she told me her name.

From: https://vinylpoetryandprose.com/2019/10/christina-stoddard/

Date: 2019

By: Christina Stoddard (19??- )

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