Who doesn't dream of death

Liam Day

in a grainy world beset with detail –
a river, steep bank, protruding in places
thick roots of unseen trees, above it gray sky?
Still we might be anywhere –
home, work, a random street corner
watching traffic zip by or, perhaps,
as winter’s premature night descends,

turning off a desolate road at an old barn
advertising four floors so heaving
with used furniture you can’t comprehend
how it hasn’t yet collapsed under
the weight of the bureaus
and bed stands, tables and divans,
bookcases, lamps, knickknacks,

scrimshaw and crude watercolor landscapes,
the mundane portrait of a son
of the rural gentry of an earlier era,
nascent widow’s peak like two winter rows
scratched in the hard earth of a hillside field
already encroaching on the young heir’s
smooth forehead, it and the rest

but carrion for the like of
us, scavenging birds who, before
retreating to hardwood and marble nests,
pick over the bloated bodies and bleached bones
of whales that long ago beached themselves.
Yet someone loved the boy, or thought they did,
so much so they paid a commission

and though the orange sticker indicates
he’s now worth five dollars, bear in mind
all sales are negotiable.