Lithub: ‘Almost Animal’ A Poem by Didi Jackson

after Käthe Kollwitz

I heard they no longer sew eyelids of the dead shut.
At the morgue, I busied myself counting
the lacerations on my husband’s neck and wrists.
I wore sunglasses and a light jacket
and pressed my palm to his wrapped chest.

After the dried blood was wiped from his face, his jaw was set
with a piece of string. They tried to leave a natural appearance.
I wanted to smooth his clothes; I wanted to clean his hair.
His throat was a village, my palm an iron of matrimony.
I wanted to burn the holding room, jar and sell the ashes.

At home, the hours layered like moths.
I didn’t eat and slept some nights. This was my way
of waging war. There was nothing left for me.
I carried him on my back and over my shoulders. I carried him
across my forehead and between my shins.
But it didn’t matter; he was going right into the fire.
I should have been the one to have prepared his body.

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