Cathleen Calbert

Death’s Girlfriend

When Death took a holiday,
he picked her for his summer girl,

glad to have that white slab of thigh
against his femur at the seaside.

Cold waves rolled over her toes,
which became pink seashells.

Meringue of foam creamed her lips.
He liked her. She felt delicious.

Death flew a fancy Japanese kite:
dip and return, dip and return.

Sand crabs crawled into a blue bathing suit.
Sad arms weakened into jellyfish.

Death placed sand dollars on her eyes
and stroked the seaweed ringlets.

Sylph, selkie, siren, he grinned.
If he’d had lips, he would have

pressed them to her tender breasts
and the new, translucent fins.

My mother died, Death’s girlfriend
thought she said. Now I am dying.

I don’t want you to see anyone else,
Death told her. I need a commitment.

She thought she nodded in agreement.
My mother died in June, she thought

she said. Now I’ll live with you.
Until the fall, Death promised.

He lifted her long body into the sea,
and they swam all the way to the moon.