Death unveils ivory keys, gleaming fangs 

curtained behind stained lips,

wine and something thicker sipped 

slow from cut-crystal glasses,

evening primroses stretching through 

cracks in the cobbles, blooming at nightfall.

Quivering vibrato and spiraling soprano, 

lush velvet, gauzy chiffon, 

heartwood, cardinal, bloodwood, mahogany—

finer by miles than her cheap clapboard coffin.

Death seduces her, florid and frail, 

gilt-edged pages of esoterica 

a weary bibliothecary shields 

from fingers of daylight.

River delta veins on bird wrists, pulsing with—

Guilt she carries for drinking too much, 

leaving little scraps of memories 

for the family who mourned 

until their grief dried,

who catch glimpses of a ghost 

on crowded thoroughfares 

wearing their daughter’s face, 

but fuller cheeks  f l u s h e d  with life, 

lustrous with something redder.

They watched the undertaker 

pound nails into her coffin lid, 

lower empty body into loamy earth, 

cover with dirt.

Book thumped shut, air of finality.

Scarlet caked under cracked nails, 

and now petrichor and mossy soil.

Ravenous mouth gnashing, craving blood.

Moonflower ripping apart a casket roof, 

clawing up through corpse-fed ground

to drink the harvest moon’s 

glow in a cemetery garden.

Trading her burial shroud for spattered satin, 

viscera in the alley behind the butcher’s.

She dances through 

midnight’s shadowed skirts, 

chasing music of hammering hearts,

seeking out gilded places 

and powdered skin to sink her teeth into.


Sara Omer is an American SWANA writer whose work has appeared in The Deeps, MYRIAD, and elsewhere. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is the Associate Fiction Editor for Orion’s Belt and a first reader for Uncharted Magazine. She lives outside of Atlanta with an old cat


Photo by Kenny Orr on Unsplash

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