Ars Poetica, Open Casket

Ars Poetica, Open Casket

“My body holds its shape. The genius is intact.”

-Thomas James

I wanted to end in fire

but forgot to write that down,

so instead, my Italian family pumped

my body full of rosewater,

left me in a room full of lilies

and aftershave

for three days

because the trinity, wrestled my limbs

until my hands were clasped

in prayer, they’re pretending

I was Catholic, again. Good thing

they drained my hot blood,

the Indian, the Scottish,

the rest, sealed my lips

with wax. But at least

I was buried outside

beneath a stone, that’s

how all of them do it,

the only way they

can make peace,

choose a god for me—

carve out a space

in the cemetary in Queens—

with the same view

that my Dad and I loved

from the circular window

in Nonna’s bathroom—

the Empire State,

the rolling hills of gravestones

beneath it—

There are more dead people

in Queens than live people,

and after 100 years

you could have someone

buried on top of you,

and somehow, you’re related,

all Italians are,

all people are,

I am finally tethered

to this pile of ancestors,

staring at the skyline again,

at the light ghosts

of the twin towers,

the ones that are too thin,

and so tall that they

leave earth,

searchlights for god

until the sun

comes up,

and we forget

that they’re gone,

that we’re still here.

Liz Desio is a recent graduate of the Area Program in Poetry Writing at the University of Virginia. She grew up in DC, where she performed spoken word, and draws inspiration from any urban setting. Liz has previously been published in The Bitchin' Kitsch Magazine, S/tick Journal, and UVA literary magazines including Glass,Garden and Virginia Literary Review.

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