Open Casket

Kathryn Stripling Byer

For two days she lay
in our living room. That she never moved
chilled me more than the terror she might.

A stirring in the net curtains
over the shut window and I was wide
awake. What happened

after the last breath? The cottonstuffed
silence of death,
did it last, or would angels begin

to trill louder than katydids,
the sinking sun burning a hole in the sky
through which I’d be borne heavenward?