The Reaper

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©Mandible|Photography

I listen to your heartbeat in the hallways of the churches
that we visited as children, before you ran away.

I can hear it in the echoes of the choir as they sing their hallelujahs,
conjuring and curling the memories of your smile into smoke from the
snuffed candles on the pulpit.

Your soul on the pedestal, sitting there like a ghost, but your hands reach out against the morning light.

I don’t come here anymore except when I need to remember you. You were brought here by Mother to be baptized, and I remember the pastor laying his hand, drenched in holy water, on your head. He told us you were blessed;
but I proclaimed into the heavy air,
“he was blessed when he was born!”

The blood of birth and the water of the womb, those are the anointed oils of our baptism; the natural baptism that God would arrange.

No babe, no child, would die “out of God’s arms,” if he were real.

You always offered your crooked smile to me, in the early morning when we ran into the forest. We lay in the sunlight in June, the cool morning air tickling our arms with the leftover fog and mist from the night before.

I remember your eyes the most, translucent green and alive, built into your sunken face; the strongest part of your frail, white body.

You ran away from the pain and death of your body. I saw the reaper in your room. He was a white horse, kneeling at your bedside, and I knew it was your time.

I watched your life flee; a storm broke outside, thunder crashing around the building.

The pastor said you had lived a good life; and the lightning came down, seven loud cracks around the church. I heard your voice whispering in the static between the flashes;

Do not make me into a martyr
weep and wail
live

Let your bones grow old
Hold your children
you will hear me in the storms

Your breath stopped in a cold white room, but I still hear it in the lust of a strong summer storm.

Some day, I will see you again; and I’ll ask you to lay with me in the tall grass of a cool June morning, so we can talk about all the time we missed.

Days pass as seconds in the pillars of creation:
I will see you soon.

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