DEAD LOVER

by KATIE BERTA

 

 

 

 

 

After you die,

you belong wholly

to each of your ex-girlfriends,

all of them claiming

a specific mourning.

 

On your birthday,

the one with the dark bangs

lights

the green tea incense

you preferred

when you lived with her.

 

The woman with the cat

named Gertrude Stein

remembers the times

you climbed the Superstitions

together, how she got

too hot, threatened

to faint.

 

One woman cuts her hair

and another braids it—

every day they

get more ardent

for the you they make.

You stop being

involved.

 

And what do you say

about it all, anyway?

They are a harem

of departures, but still

a harem. No living man

has had

so much devotion

pointed at him—not

even you.

No one living can

access what you cheat

off of them

by their grief.