“Death Means Not Sleeping,” “Ghazal from a Bottle,” and “On Tuesdays”

In Issue 68 by Fran Abrams

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Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Death Means Not Sleeping

How do you keep on getting out of bed each morning?

A bed that is half empty since the day your husband died.

A life that seems like a flight of stairs missing a step

and you always seem to trip on that one.

Your bed is half empty since your husband died.

You want to hide in his closet and cuddle his clothes.

You trip each time a visitor wants you to come downstairs.

You choose solitude as you cry with your memories.

You want to hide in his closet and sit with his empty clothes.

Your friends push you to get out of the house.

You choose solitude as you replay your memories.

You search for keepsakes while cleaning out his closet.

Your friends push you to get out of the house.

There are nights you choose to sleep on the sofa downstairs.

You search for keepsakes while cleaning out his closet.

Refuse to sleep on sheets that once held him.

There are nights you choose to sleep on the sofa

so as not to walk a flight of stairs missing a step.

You refuse to sleep on sheets that once held him.

You get out of bed, struggle not to trip on the stairs.

Ghazal from a Bottle

Our experience taking nourishment as babies meant drinking from a bottle.

We were completely dependent on someone else to prepare a warm bottle.

I see milk cartons in grocery stores today and think of all the milk varieties, oat, soy,

almond, and recall as a child just one kind of milk delivered to our door in clear bottles.

When my aunt made peach preserves, we were always eager to volunteer to be her tasters.

When my uncle made cough syrup, we did not get to sample what he put in a brown bottle.

Last week we lazed at the seashore, dozing on the sand under the spell of blue water.

Waking up, we joined a crowd around a boy who found a message in a green bottle.

When my girlfriend died in college, I knew for weeks beforehand she was addicted to rum.

I always avoided alcohol, having seen its effects, knowing there is evil in that shapely bottle.

Living in a city where crime statistics climb daily, where some have lost their way, I always

worry about guns, carjackings, and rockets made from gasoline and rags stuffed in bottles.

I see my life coming closer to the end, years moving toward 80, my body becoming ashes.

Where will my name be inscribed? My name engraved on what kind of bottle?

On Tuesdays

She wakes to the noise of the garbage truck.

It’s much too early to be awake, but it seems

no one has invented a garbage truck

without brakes that squeal

like a microphone’s feedback.

The truck’s pounding noise proves

cans are completely empty, a thonk

signaling there’s nothing left inside, noise

reverberating through the neighborhood

as the truck stops at each house.

These trucks are primitive in design,

men hanging off the back, jumping

down at each house, lifting the cans

into the back of the truck, tossing

the empties onto the driveway,

then jumping back onto the truck

and hanging on until reaching the next

set of cans in the next driveway,

leaping and lifting over and over,

acrobats collecting the trash.

Several hours later, the recycling truck

comes through. By this time, she is awake

and unperturbed by its digestive noises.

Awake enough to appreciate the choreography

of the gymnasts who haul garbage,

grateful that her community collects

garbage separately from recyclables,

and that today, with no rain, she stays dry

as she drags her cans behind her garage

where they reside every day but Tuesday.

About the Author

Fran Abrams

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Fran Abrams (she/her) has had poems published online and in print in The American Journal of Poetry, The Raven’s Perch, Gargoyle 74, and many others, as well as in more than a dozen anthologies. In 2019, she was a juried poet at Houston (TX) Poetry Fest and a featured reader at DiVerse Gaithersburg (MD) Poetry Reading. In December 2021, she won the Washington Writers Publishing House Winter Poetry Prize. Her autobiographical book titled “I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir,” is being released in November 2022 from Atmosphere Press. Her first chapbook, “The Poet Who Loves Pythagoras,” will be released from Finishing Line Press in March 2023.