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After You Die

After you die
Magnolias will blossom
Rain will fall
And the same dead stars that lit your way
Will continue to shine
Regardless of whether or not people living in cities can see them

After you die
A few people will remember a few things about you
For a very short amount of time
Because after you die
The people who remember you will die
And pretty soon all that will be left
Is the love you put into the world
And your Hydrogen
Oxygen, Calcium, and Phosphorus
Which made up 99% of you
But it’s hard to say if it was ever really yours
But if it was
It’s hard to speak of you dying
Perhaps better to say that you’ve been dispersed
(Which, of course, is the meaning of the word “redeemed”)

After you die
Commensal bacteria will still move from the bodies of mothers
Through their breast-milk
Into the digestive tracts of their infants
Where it will help those infants to develop healthy immune systems
And the bacteria living within your digestive tract
Will migrate out into your tissues
And begin the process of taking apart
What they so tenderly built and cared for
For all the years of your life
“A job well done, a job well done,”
I imagine them saying to each other
Like authors releasing books into the world
Like parents releasing adult children
Like Tibetan monks erasing the mandalas
They painstakingly crafted
Grain of sand by grain of sand

After you die
Cladosporium Sphaerospermum, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Wangiella dermatitidis
Will keep munching radiation at Chernobyl
Continually marveling at the bounty they have been given
For the next twenty thousand years
And who knows
Maybe the badgers
Will return to the forks of the river where you lived

After you die
Even for you
It will be like you were never here
So you can get busy being all the you
That you will ever only be for the very briefest moment
(so brief, in fact, it doesn’t really even merit mentioning)
Or you can wash your hands of it all
But regardless of whether you experience this as liberating
Or devastating
As hopeful or anxiety-provoking
After a few more sleeps
It won’t make any difference

After you die
You will be dead
And with and as the dead
You will abide
But even then
Not for very long

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