» Poetry

I Tell My Twin Sister if I Come Back after I Die,

 it sure as hell ain’t gonna be to visit

as a pesky fly, obsessively orbiting her head while

she kneels, nose-pinched, to de-poop the litter box.


Or a squirrel, like the one she calls Mom

whenever it pauses halfway up the maple

to stare through the kitchen window as she lights

a cigarette: I know, I know—I promise I’ll quit!


If we’re granted the power to return, to embody

some other kind of creature, why would it be

those two ducks who claim her pool every June?


Okay . . . so if they are Grandma and Grandpa, 

what do you think they’re trying to communicate

through the shit and feathers you skim out daily?


You remember how they loved to swim, she insists,

when I suggest it’s the endless supply of breadcrumbs

she scatters, not reincarnation, bringing them back.


Well, if I return, I assure her, it’ll be as a bear

not at all native to her suburban town—a big one,

who claws a perfect M for Michael into the side

of her shed. So there’s no uncertainty it’s me.


Oh my god! Don’t you dare, she says. That shed cost

a fortune! But . . . feel free to carve it into the maple.


What makes you think I’m going first anyway? I ask.

Has that fly you call Pop been telling you something?


Clean the litter box for me, she says. And ask him yourself.


Michael Montlack

Michael Montlack is editor of the Lambda Finalist essay anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (University of Wisconsin Press) and author of the poetry book Cool Limbo (NYQ Books). Recently his work has appeared in North American Review, Barrow Street, Hotel Amerika, Poet Lore, Los Angeles Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. He lives in NYC.