What Becomes a Ghost?

Elisa Karbin | Poetry

No thickening of the air
when met with last breath
nor convulsive clutch toward

some othered orphic veil—
……..This, I know with quartz-
clear certainty.

What of me will persist, then,
after the long crawl, once
artifacts of my being have been

and been set into boxes, left
curbside to dampen and molder
to ash and my body is stilled

and kiln-fed, made too to ash—
……..on this, I am unclear.
Go back to the before:

to the pre-death, the warm
skin covering the infrared blood.
The bed and the gold kitchen

light; cats curled at my hip and
the living hum in my breast,
my body, mapped circuit of living

heat, my body, this unlipped
entropic bowl. …….I know
the bounded vessel cannot hold.

We must understand we are
small cups, brimfull on a spinning
tray, our every faintest ripple recorded

in the atmosphere itself, our every
moment balanced, a stroke chalked
toward the inevitable upending.

You ask what becomes a ghost—
if heat leaves traces, let us say heat.