Pushing Daisies
Rachel McKibbens

He has a remarkable ability, a trick to baffle
even the most talented of witch doctors.
With a simple touch, he brings the dead back to life,
no matter how deep the wound, how cold the heart.
The newly undead often begin speaking immediately,
unaware they are continuing a pre-death conversation,
and the person with whom they were speaking with
has most likely moved on to finish conversations
with other people, rowing through countless bars,
searching for a warm face to touch, a dress to
go home with, someone to keep grief from
pulling up a chair at the table and eating everything
in sight. Cursed with the inability to contact
their loved ones without causing a commotion,
the undead must relocate to new towns, find
different pets and lovers, sons and daughters,
inspire new enemies and risk getting hired
at another miserable job.

A woman feeds the bus her token and takes
a seat. Her grocery bags are heavy, so she
tucks them under her feet instead of hogging
more space. She is a considerate woman.
She has moved to a new town to get away from
the sadness that had built itself around her,
day-by-day, brick-by-brick. Her husband
of thirty-two years was killed in a freak car accident,
his body pulled from a tree two hundred yards
from the scene. At his funeral, the woman noticed
a pretty young lady she had never seen before
sitting in the second row. What struck her
was how hard the stranger cried and how shiny
her long black hair was, fat curling serpents
stretching the length of her spine. When the other
mourners filed out of the chapel, the black-haired
woman stayed behind, hugging the casket
with her arms and legs,
the way a child straddles a tree trunk.

The bus stops on Smith Street. A man climbs
the high steps, pays his fare and makes his
way through the crowd. As he sits behind
the woman, she looks up from her book,
recognizing her husband's quirky scent,
then quickly lowers her head and continues
reading, embarrassed by the two seconds of hope
that swarmed inside her. The man
spots the twin moles on his wife's familiar neck,
and a jolt of new love zaps through
his resurrected heart. He leans forward
and smells the thin grey hair piled atop her head,
held in place with a chewed pencil. Rose shampoo
and cigarette smoke. When the bus stops again,
the wife stands up, carefully making her way through
the narrow spaces between bodies, brushing past
the dead and the living as her husband watches
her like a silent film, left behind
to experience new and unfamiliar joys.

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