“They left behind them, to enjoy the corpses,
the dark coated one, the dark horny-beaked raven
and the dusky-coated one,
the eagle white from behind, to partake of carrion,
greedy war-hawk, and that gray animal
the wolf in the forest.” (Anglo Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 937)
Passing epiphanies light when ossein fingers
close a vice, constrict the heart to desperate
half-beats and settle back on exhalation
to flood the mind with silence.
It’s a wonder people care to hear of anything
but ravens and wolves tearing men apart.
To be lucky enough to live forever
because you were devoured is a dead tongue.
We speak a language of evaporating words,
our myths floating up after them, because
you can’t tell stories with words that won’t stay.
Our hands shy from stretching cow skin, and
we don’t have the guts to burn our kin in public
anymore. Steel bites them in the back until
dry eyed strangers desecrate them with unnatural fire.
They came to pay their respects
and laid me atop your tomb,
fresh cut at the stems,
still peach skinned and honeybush
in that sun yellow dress
I wore on my good days.
The color is manic
against your alabaster effigy
but will dim as I wilt-
I always do-
losing its glare and browning
until the soft petals of my skirts
turn crisp and rattle
against the husk of my body.
Passed, they will throw me out
so as not to taint your rest with the dead.
A crimson stain I’ll leave
at the foot of your sepulcher,
seeped from where they plucked
me too soon, out of my natural place,
to adorn a memory.
I always left my mark on you;
so well you always bore it.
Amy Kotthaus is a writer, translator, painter, and photographer. Her poetry has been published in Ink in Thirds, Yellow Chair Review, Haiku Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Gnarled Oak, and Section 8. Her photography has been published in Storm Cellar, Ground Fresh Thursday, Crab Fat Magazine, Quantum Fairy Tales, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and Digging Through the Fat.