by Rick Bursky

Someone broke into my house and set the table
–large dinner plate surrounded by a folded blue napkin,
two pencils and a fountain pen instead of knife fork spoon.
This wasn’t the first time, it happened last Wednesday and Monday.
Each time the only thing taken from the house was a pomegranate.
I keep three on the windowsill but one is gone
when the place settings appear. The police didn’t want to be bothered;
complaints from an obituary writer are never a priority.
Still, I offered my suspicions, someone returned from the dead
to protest their final notice. The deputy chief of detectives even agreed.
But he rubbed the side of his face
the way high-ranking police officials tend to do
when they sympathize but won’t help. Of course, I understood.
Why do I think it’s someone back from the dead?
The missing pomegranates–the dead, it’s believed
survive on a diet consisting of such fruit.
I’ve written two hundred and eleven obituaries.
It’s not uncommon for them to be saved in scrapbooks.
I once wrote about a man’s fungused yellow toenails
to distinguish him in death in a way life never did.
His daughter called to thanks me. My words
brought her father’s death to life.
I told her words do that, told her about the stolen pomegranates,
about the deputy chief rubbing the side of his face.
She didn’t believe me, I mean the part about the dead stealing,
the dead wouldn’t do that, the dead are beyond revenge.
I stared at the phone while she spoke.
Wind rattled the window. Leave it alone,
she recommended, some stories are better left unexamined.
Besides, how do you fingerprint the decayed flesh of the grave,
more of a rhetorical question than one directed at me.
Though she did believe the part about the deputy chief of detectives
rubbing the side of his face.


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