After Death

Roger Reeves

To get the light and dead coming through
The window without distinguishing one
From the other is the day with and without
Its mastery, stumbling upon a dead deer
In a neighbor’s field, knowing it was left
There for you not as muse but as memory
Dropped, broken off. Death no longer concerned
With this beast that once covered a field
With the white breath of its longing
Because the animal is beyond death,
And death has no interest in what is beyond
It, so now it’s off to stare at the barely-Standing-
there Drunk swaying beneath two scythes
Hanging on two boards above his raised eyes,
The afternoon drifting into doorways,
Death now in a pocket of pines, in the thick
Hair of a boy who turns a skunk over
With a stick, watching the Christmas of its intestines
Steam in the snow. Death touching the boy
Where it is he will know him—beneath the arm
As if raising him up to this common
Understanding. Desire is everywhere
In this field, even in me who is not
In this field but, from my many windows,
Watching the night’s dark light fall and dwell
In its falling which sends me stumbling
To my newborn’s invisible breathing,
Wanting to ensure the invisible
Holds, my fig-branch finger stretched beneath her
Nose, me wondering: what is beyond death?
And what is this rage in darkness?
And my father, what is he other than dead,
Rage and so much light and so much light?

Roger Reeves is the author of two books of poems, King Me and Best Barbarian, a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry. His debut book of essays, Dark Days, will be published by Graywolf Press in August.
Originally published:
September 1, 2020


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