The feast is ready for my waiting lips.
The food is boiled and salted and singed
and salted again.
The death mask, still warm from the oven,
might chip my teeth and cut my tongue;
boiled ashes will take the blood, will
sponge it up almost like bread;
there is no bread on the feast table,
there are photographs and diaries,
hidden under fine summer sauces of currants
and blackberries: berry juices to cover the ink
and bring out the melancholy tastes.
And the birds, flocks of them, little bodies
carved straight from wood. They have been steamed,
are soft enough to swallow whole, beak-first.
You loved those birds, loved them so much.
I can feel them choke me like crying fits.
Once inside, they live, they sing through the ashes.
It’s a cruel song, a song that scares off sleep.
I will hum for you, my dear, I will,
and I will give them tiny grains
from my bleeding lips
and let them sing.
© 2019 Alexandra Seidel