Rebecca Lehmann

The Afterlife
May 22, 2019 Lehmann Rebecca

The Afterlife

After life, pelicans glide above a shut-
down bridge. After the bridge, a tuft

of buffalo grass bending in a dirt field.
Life winks after us. It wants to ride again,

but it’s lost its ticket. Like if you had two
chocolates, and wanted to save one for later.

You try and try, the chocolate sweating
in your palm like dynamite, like the explosion

of death, wedding you to broken boards
and pilled bugs. Nothing to mount

on the walls, no washed out cow skulls.
No daguerreotypes of long forgotten soldiers

that hang from unanchored screws
like busted saviors, like the afterlife itself,

old plaid vest left flapping against
the wooden pole of an electric fence,

that isn’t really keeping anything
in or out, but still holds its charge,

still slaps the back of a little boy’s hand
as he reaches for a deer’s shed antler.

Rebecca Lehmann is the author of the poetry collections Ringer, winner of the 2018 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and published by University of Pittsburgh Press in 2019, and Between the Crackups (Salt, 2011). Her poetry and nonfiction has been published in Tin House, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, and featured on The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith on NPR, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day Project, the New York Public Library Poem in Your Pocket program, Longreads and other venues. She lives in Indiana, where she is Assistant Professor of English at Saint Mary’s College.