Sam Sax




below the earth there is no god of paper. there is no god
of boys or boiled water, no watched pot or rusted musket
no time capsule that will open to let all our beloved artifacts
stumble forth & live again: just rock moving against rock
& this grindstone may be god, these dinner plates shattering
against each other, eating the metal we stole to build
our cities, remaking a continent. when you bury a person
in the ground, they're no longer a person. sadly, this is not
also true of books. my father's biggest fear is being buried
alive & this has nothing to do with death. this is the oldest
fear, why all petroglyphs contain the sky. why early coffins
came equipped with little bells meant to alert the sexton
something's still living inside. scientists believe deep beneath
us already exist seven great extinction events. my father's not               
afraid of death, only of being in a small room slowly filling
with water. maybe fear is a currency, tender you can use
to barter with this life or the next. or maybe fear
is an inheritance. twitch his mother passed down through
her blood onto me, dead yiddish dictionary, every sibling
she left in the old country that's become no longer family.
thank god, there is no god of memory. i cannot tell you,
how much mud & brick she has packed inside her, how
many rooms she's drowned in. if you believe a coffin
is a ship bound for paradise, then let me show you the face
of a woman painted for the gods, how even in death
her eyes widen as the lid closes.



vivisepulture: vivi ("living" "alive") sepulture ("burying" "burial"). this poem formally follows the process of being eaten alive by the ground.