If I say I want a dead friend,
I mean I want a dead friend I didn’t
know when he was alive—someone
I’ve never smelled, never heard
floating that bashful swim-bladdery
cough over my shoulder when I thumb
through a greasy romance novel
A little dead friend who rides
around in the pocket of my blue
cardigan, sculpting egg cases
(A. styx) from lint & spit &
the soft scraps of laundered rcpts—
to be pasted on pale-bellied leaves.
When I want to burn my secret
diary cross-hatched with X’s name,
my dead friend says no, drags me
to the baptism river. We float
the pages & race along the bank
until, swollen with enough water,
they sink & at that spot we bury
a snail shell in the muddy bank.
My dead friend sucks in river air & draws
all the lost vowels, foamy bubbles,
up from the yellow water, but nt
ll at once, gradlly, & th consnants
snk dwn & dwn nt th brwn slt.
After I share my sob saga if stick
girl says “at least you can write
a poem about it” my dead friend
sinks his fingerlings (up to 2nd
knuckle) in one of her visceral
sweet sponges & she’ll mistake
the lingering cold volt for regret.
Who can speak the invisible
languages, forecast each juiced
swarm that flits overhead, hums
underfoot. Sometimes a leaf will
palpitate with a white static
water-noise in the cottonwood:
here, then over here.