And after death
our loved ones will be given
our emptied skins…
          —Devon Miller-Duggan, “Skin Poem”

They will suspend it
from the ceiling like a cloud, a dusty cobweb
in a damp corner of the basement
to keep it supple and green as memory.
They will list it on their inventory
for insurance purposes
under “Miscellaneous.”
They will not have its value assessed.

They will fold it up in lavender-scented
tissue and store it in a lidless box
in the bottom of the armoire in the attic
layered with dead silkworms
and a silica dessicant.
They will press it flat
between the mattress and the box spring.
Its arms dangle in the folds
of the eylet-embroidered dust ruffle.

They will breathe gently into its mouth
to inflate it with warm, moist air;
nose, ears, crotch sealed with electrical tape,
and pose it on the davenport
to repel Jehovah’s Witnesses
and other intrusions.
Just before each Federal holiday
they replenish its mascara
(its eyelids are sutured shut)
and crown it with a dilapidated wreath
of bay leaves, tinsel, and sharks’ teeth.

©2003 F.J. Bergmann

"Vessel" appeared in Cannibal #1

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