The Common Good
May 2004

Button Your Shirt Before You Go

by E. Ethelbert Miller | May 2004

(for Reetika)

Dead woman loving him
from her grave.
Is this the end of love?

In the weeks after her funeral
he would lie across his bed like
a clean shirt that had fallen from
a hanger in the back of a closet.

Even after he learns about her death,
when he knows she is not home or
maybe not in the mood to talk,
he calls on her phone to listen to her voice
on the answering machine
reminding him to leave a message.

Tonight he undresses and decides
to love the dead.
He walks across the room and pulls
her book from the shelf.

On every page a suicide note.
On every page a lullaby.

E. Ethelbert Miller's most recent publication is How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love (Curbstone, 2004). He lives in Washington, D.C.

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