After Their Deaths I Was Okay
Afterwards, I wanted to buy a motorcycle.
I wanted to drink all the water from the river.
I tried to bite the world in the face.
I wept in doorways, wilted, flesh frame to wood frame
until I turned to seed on the bathroom floor,
unable to root upon tile.
No matter my odds, suicide became a silly word.
Afterwards, I leapt a guardrail, climbed a hidden waterfall,
hands and knees in the catching darkness,
north and deeper, a railroad track no trains will ever cross.
Abandoned is the non-acceptance of freedom.
Afterwards, I thought, yes, she is dead, and young,
and yes he is dead too, and magnificent.
It's not that I do not believe in their shadows.
I have never believed in something
so immediately visceral.
Afterwards, completely grey. The best mourner.
I crumpled her memorial program around a flat rock
and tossed it in a mountain pool.
I did not attend his, I made my own.
Afterwards, I woke up five times a night
to take my temperature, to prove body warmth.
I no longer concerned myself with time,
or cared to talk so much to people.
I smiled, repositioned the mask,
said goodbye, with all my heart
to strangers. Wandered.
The alive came looking for me. Me?
Afterwards, I'm not the person you're looking for.
Ashley Steineger lives in Raleigh, NC. A former psychologist, Ashley retired early to focus on her writing career. She enjoys fishing, humor, and people watching, among other creative pursuits.