After Life

Memory slithers, wicked. Its demands make / birds fly jagged into the false mouths of trees

Portrait of Jenny Boychuk

I had no choice but to embody the lake.
My nail beds anchored beneath stones, weeds.
To float or drown is the same ache.

Relentless, the revolving door: asleep / awake.
The paradox of an afterlife forced me deep;
I had no choice but to embody the lake.

Memory slithers, wicked. Its demands make
birds fly jagged into the false mouths of trees.
To float or drown is the same ache.

My mother is buried, but it thrills her to shake
a house until every jar falls out. Believe me,
I had no choice but to embody the lake.

A shy girl kneels at the shore, bakes a cake
of sand. Pebble sprinkles. A candle. A plea.
To float or drown, I worry, is the same ache.

Even the clearest dreams of her are opaque.
Even her mirrors are draped with white sheets.
I didn’t have a choice. I embodied the lake.
To float or drown is the same ache.

Jenny Boychuk
Jenny Boychuk's first book of poems, Antonyms for Daughter, is due out in Fall 2022. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

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