By Michelle Betters
When you died everyone came home
to fill up the church. We spilled over
into the parking lot. After the service
we went to Whataburger because it was Sunday.
There was nowhere else to go. No
let me tell it straight this time.
First we went back to the house and drank
all the alcohol we could find because
though we had just stood in the pews singing
(the way we’d been taught to)
that it was well with our souls, it was not.
It was Sunday. The liquor stores were closed.
Anyone who’s seen a river round here knows
there is no peace. You had died in a hospital bed
while the rest of us ignored each other's calls.
Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me” came on
the radio. We ate cheeseburgers in our funeral
clothes—all black against orange plastic
We were no longer kids; we were just drunk folks
counting the holes in a dead friend’s ghost.
We were punctuation marks in our own faithlessness
Each of your donated organs was a small salvation.
In this version of the hymn, Christ is the needle
and God is the suture. This is how it is well.
You won't live forever, but you will live
a little bit longer in someone else’s chest.
You'll wear those shoes and I will wear that dress.
Michelle Betters works at Boston Review and teaches at Emerson College. Her poems most recently appeared in Queen Mob's Tea House and Cosmonauts Ave. She also writes about poetry for the Ploughshares Blog.