Terrified past panic, strict lines collapsed,
their shredded flesh more wound than flesh,
they play dead in a ditch, but won’t give up
their shrouds, which have grown on them.
Then the angels come, oiling eye sockets, joints,
and stuffing everyone’s armpits, left or right,
with an item they failed to desecrate in life.
This way, something saved remains warm,
and God’s hands don’t get cold, as He sorts
the good ones from the ones who’ve spoiled.
From Departures from Rilke (Arrowsmith Press, 2023) by Steven Cramer. Copyright © 2023 by Steven Cramer. Used with the permission of the author and publisher.