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Jill Alexander Essbaum

              Timor Mortis Conturbat Me

When twilight tires of its terrors,
              When the errant anguish of the night thrush erupts
Like a fat, black moon upon an ashfield of urns,
              When God, in his bitter infinity prepares a worm to seize me,
When the invincible enemy sees me,
              When I burn the notice that confirmed our break-up.
When you notice that I crack-up, but how it’s never from laughter,
              When sun-up is the zero hour, but I do not merit an ounce of sleep—
              The fear of death confounds me.

When I carve, from the bones in my wrist, a flute,
              When I prove it to you, when I throb and when I clench,
When you trawl my water with fisherman’s fingers,
              When I sit quite still and clip your clothes into pieces,
Even as my shattered tearwells swell with stars.
              When the door is open but the curtains are drawn,
And the curtains are gauze, and the walls have eyes,
              And when the screaming light of Christ casts doubt on me—
              The fear of death confounds me.

When I’m pissed on want for lack of wine,
              When you coax down my panties with a vulpine tongue,
When perishing atop you, I do not rise up,
              When the deed is done and the evidence is hidden,
And when I fall ill with a semblance of sepsis,
              And you fill in our ellipses with question marks,
While your damn, demented heart scars me speechless,
              When your arctic stare ice-bounds me—
              The fear of death confounds me.

When the end is near and I draw close to Jehovah,
              When it is over, when we were lovers,
When Marian apparitions devour the clouds.
              Jesus. You are handsome.
So I let you put your hand in. And then you demand it.
              And it hurts, hurts, hurts because it has to, it has to.
When you, my disaster, have driven me to drink,
              When empties and bottleshards fill the sink,
              When a bloodstain slurs through my nightgown’s seam—
              The fear of death yet confounds me.

But you go on without me.

Jill Alexander Essbaum

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