Navigating the Afterlife (Burial Goods)

Emily Schulten
| poetry


You find yourself making a list of goods
late at night, when the kids have fallen asleep
and your wife is making tomorrow’s lunches.
When no one is home, you scan for what you
will need, you steal items from your house
and hoard them beneath some loosened closet
floorboards. Your grandfather’s hammer,
a gold necklace from beneath your wife’s sink,
some charcoal, a stone pot, non-perishables.
You write a map, a plan for how you will use
each item, what you will need to build,
what you will need to barter. One Sunday
you ask your eldest daughter to craft a boat
from her dried, pinkened popsicle sticks.
you tell her this is how you’ll travel the sky
or fires, how you’ll find a place and begin
preparing the dinner that will be waiting for her.

Emily Schulten is the author of Rest in Black Haw (New Plains Press), and her poems appear or are forthcoming in North American Review, Mid- American Review, Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, New Orleans Review, and others.

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