Double Effect: December 31

By Martha Serpas ’94 M.Div.

   … it is natural to everything to keep itself in
being,” in as far as possible.


Goodbye Year-I-Almost-Died
            the bridge closes behind you
            in closing to you

it opens to me, a foreseeable
            but unintended consequence
            of your passing

the one-armed tender, drunk
            and mending nets 
            will wave me through

Year-I-Almost-Died, I pass you
            the peace
            one day I’ll forget who you are

Down the bayou
            I make the veillé
            turn down a shell road

I get down at the levee
            I like to sit on the grass
            and be with the stars

I still like to drive the colors
            wild I like to pray
            bromeliads on fire

            I curse and bless you
            for all your magic

and all your monstrosities
            the lizard that eats its own skin
            the fern flaring after rain

And nights I laid my back on the waves
            I laid my hands at my side
            the darkness erasing the tracers

I stood on silver guardrails 
            I swallowed the streetlights
            the coyotes in the mist-draped field

            you were that promising date
            that began with a chilled corsage

and ended on a rainy doorstep without a kiss 
            you were that toast, that pyrotechnic
            display and its acrid smell

            we slept together in a twin bed
            while the dog curled on the floor

O what a better companion he is
            he rounds my sleep
            and covers my dreams

            the bridge closes behind you          
            and in closing it opens for me

Martha Serpas ’94 M.Div. “Double Effect: December 31” from Double Effect. Copyright © 2020 by Martha Serpas. Reprinted by permission of LSU Press. See