They show up in the Newsfeed. Facebook
as memorial. Birthday reminders. Events where
the guest of honor will never appear. Someone
who has forgotten or who hasn’t heard will leave
a joyful, “Eat cake!” a copied and pasted “Happy birthday!”
even just the letters HBD in our light speed world.
Still not so far away from lost messengers in ancient times,
letters gone down at sea or never delivered because of a lame horse.
But others – “Miss you, Mama. It’s been hard.”
“This earth isn’t the same without you on it.” Sometimes
I think about the ways we die. Cancer, car accident,
suicide, suicide, suicide, suicide — I think
of the body hanging. The children unknowing on
the other side of the door while the blood stops travelling,
the cells shut down without oxygen. This is all
very mechanical. It is just lights going out on a cellular
level. The same way pixels spark out of my LED screen
sending their image and are then shut down. Some days
I want to type, “I saw your son in the school concert.
He was wonderful. You would be so proud.” Or,
“The earth misses the weight of your terrible beauty.”
Is this the modern way of planting flowers in a cemetery?
Placing stones on a grave? Is the digital world temperate
or desert? Victorians must’ve felt this way about photographs,
and before this, paintings. How are we always inventing
ways to keep the dead with us? Why is it so hard to let
the cursor hover over Unfriend? Block? How permanently
to release you? To make room for more. To keep the pixels
of you from my screen the way the tiny lights of your body
turned out – One, by one, by one.
Shaindel Beers is the author of two full-length poetry collections, A Brief History of Time (2009) and The Children’s War and Other Poems (2013), both from Salt Publishing. She is the Poetry Editor of Contrary Magazine and teaches at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon. Find more online at http://shaindelbeers.com/.