When she asked, “Where will you go on the day that I die?”
he drew a big empty house in a tree on a hill.
She said, “Draw me the things I must never forget,”
so he drew his sad hands, asleep in a jewelry box

in the big empty house in a tree on a hill.
She said, “Draw something of mine you know you will miss”
so he drew his sad hands asleep in a jewelry box
cupping her heart with a key in its throat.

When she said, “Draw something else you know you will miss”
he drew her withering body, perched on a pedestal,
cupping his heart with a key in its throat.
She said, “Draw what I’ll look like in fifty-six years,”

and he drew her withering body, perched on a pedestal,
deep in a cloud of grandfather clocks.
She said, “Draw what I’ll look like in sixty-five years,”
so he drew her in bed, coughing up paper orchids

deep in a cloud of grandfather clocks.
She said, “This is the thing you must never forget:
me in our bed, coughing up paper orchids
telling you where to go on the day that I die.”

 

Rachel McKibbens hides out in icy upstate New York with five children and a handsome lumberjack. Her poems, short stories and essays have snuck into numerous journals, including The Los Angeles Review, The American Poetry Journal, The New York Quarterly, World Literature Today and Monkey Bicycle. Her first book of poetry, Pink Elephant (Cypher Books) was released in 2009.

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