The Afterlife

Jessica Laser

I could take out the recycling

and die if I don’t

run into him. I could sit

in the garden and die

if he doesn’t walk by.

I am in love with my neighbor.

Is it obvious

a pandemic rages,

that we’ve all

been stuck inside?

My neighbor is a professional.

He rides his motorcycle

to fly big jets. I hear him leave

from my bed. From my couch,

I hear him come back. He’s

too sexy to get furloughed.

The airlines would miss him,

they’d fold. Last night,

he taught me to disarm

his gun. I do love a man

whose priority is safety,

but I think I’ll die anyway:

the long, slow, excruciating

death of wondering if today

he’s forgotten about me.

Once I was not living but merely

surviving. Now I am not

surviving at all. I read in a book

The worst has already happened

but when he comes home

I forget all my plans. I think I intended

to shower. Shall I crawl there?

I am in love with my neighbor.

I’ll die if he doesn’t

text back. He’ll come home

and I’ll know, or he won’t

and then, O misery, where

would he be? I’d be here,

dying of guessing, listening

to Lover by Taylor Swift.

In one song, she thought

something would kill her

but it didn’t. I felt

a little sorry for her.

You should have let it, Taylor!

Let me rewrite your song.

You thought that it would kill you

and it did. You’re singing this

from the afterlife, where only

those brave enough to live die.

Jessica Laser is the author of three collections of poems, including The Goner School.
Originally published:
June 10, 2024


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