Elisavietta Ritchie



You up and died, damn it, when we were in full

swing, floated aloft in our communiqués

through the stratosphere every day —


No need to speak, we could hear the tones

of each other's ephemeral words

on the invisible page.


Like kites, we wafted over our other selves, bound

to still other selves on the earth, worlds

that kept reeling us back.


How to exit in style? Death was near, you knew.

No illusions of permanence then, enough

of our words in ink and in print.


We ghost-spoke till the end, a fortnight beyond

the joke the day you discovered somebody had

already filled in the hospital blank: deceased.


Was it fitting they burned you?

You spewed your gray and white flakes

like shreds of ripped drafts into the wind.


They stuffed your leftover cinders into a jar,

sealed this in a vault with a solid brass plaque.

As if you could not escape into me.


How one bite

of chocolate

leads to the next . . .

That should be rather

the final couplet

of a list of adventures


from the first awkward graze

in the movie-house dark

or a borrowed car

or dim grove

(slapping mosquitoes)


to the full bit in a motel

cheap by the hour

(where Housekeeping forgot

the sliver of soap

in its give-away wrapper)


or the Waldorf-Astoria

(how could you pass up

those mint chocolates

on the pillows)


wherever, whenever, however, why

are no longer germane


but again

one bite of chocolate . . .

Elisavietta Ritchie's 15 books include Real Toads; Awaiting Permission to Land; Spirit of the Walrus; Arc of the Storm; Elegy for the Other Woman; Tightening The Circle Over Eel Country; Raking The Snow; In Haste I Write You This Note; Flying Time.  A new collection will be out from Cherry Grove Collections in 2011. Editor, The Dolphin's Arc: Endangered Creatures of the Sea, and others; her work is widely published, translated, and anthologized. Ex-president for poetry, then fiction, Washington Writers' Publishing House.




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