I write your eulogy in the dark.
My hands, distant workers,
feel the pen, the crisp paper,
words crash lightly, soundless.
Emotions in English, you wouldn’t
have known another language unless
it’s in your blood on the mortician’s
table, unremarkable, just clean.
There’s no reason to turn on the light,
I’ve had this worked out for years.
Like a goddess rubs her hands
together, creates land,
a body of water, places
we take for granted.
Outside the brick wall, I hear
a train, not distant, not silent.
My hand shakes, your name smears,
black ink suddenly a disappointment.
I can’t start over.
I think of what might be in the train.
In the morning I will present
this work to strangers.
Scribing death into something
beautiful is to cut a tulip,
bring it inside, peer at it daily, the wilt,
the falling petals, yellow on the kitchen counter.
We count them for good measure,
for stupid love.
Sarah Lilius is the author of four chapbooks, including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017), and Thirsty Bones (Blood Pudding Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Entropy, and is forthcoming in Fourteen Hills. She lives in Virginia with her husband and sons. Her website is sarahlilius.com.
Art: Untitled Study, acrylic, pastel, and marker on archival paper
Artist Statement: What initially drew me to this artwork for the poem was its amount of empty space (“unremarkable, just clean”) in it and the meandering pattern of marks which call to mind the collective habits of our day-to-day — the stuff that makes up a life.