Sarah Rose Etter

1. Fall asleep in rapid time during daylight. Shut eyes and fall out of everything until even the sheets weep. The blackness will wrap itself with better comfort than the arms of every mother. Cry in sunlight, eyes closed, fingers, pillows, lying on bits of dead skin caught in threads while moving further away from piles of casserole taking shape in refrigerators.

2. Abandon friends for strangers. Get into the car and drive to places where grass grows feverish. Find small bars and enter. Become a clown. Chain smoke until eventually there are only men, backs of trucks, absence of clothing. Let dark wind run over the back, let it count vertebrae efficiently as a man's fingers. This is much the same as sleeping.

3. Let luncheon meetings go unattended. Favor sandwiches built from hardening cheese and stale bread. Do not shave legs. The hair will keep the company. Cancel phone numbers. At gas stations, nod curtly away from the greetings of familiar eyes. Buy more cigarettes. Abandon everyone until there are only dependable things: Worn-in cushions, constant color of carpets, ribs of the dog becoming exposed after weeks of only water.

4. Make 3 a.m. phone calls to people with full time jobs. Lay it over phone lines. Spew it as sewage until other hands clean up the mess. Pull words out of the throat like long pieces of hair from shower drains. Words will begin from the other end. Shut the ears. Roll down steel casings over the two holes. It will not be understood.

5. Build shrines. Cling to photographs to protect them from thieves. Memorize the descending force of faces, the downward direction of noses. Light candles feverishly. Put locks on doors. Huddle next to metal for warmth.

6. Place it in a purse or satchel. At social events, unlock the clasps. Speak only of ache. Put it on a silver platter. Pass it around next to small quiches. Let it enter the mouths and minds of everyone in party clothes. Ruin the best things.

7. Address the dead cordially. Speak to the air with affection. Continue to caress the calves of the deceased. Do not believe in dry cleaning. Build filth into a person. Let the crowds speak of the crazed. Lie on the grass and grin. Swallow the sky with the eyes. Lose nothing. There will be comfort here.

8. Join them. Make the sheets on the bed fight clean and tight. Lay in the center. Do not move. Hold your breath until it hurts as much in the lungs as it does in the heart. Think of soil.

9. Chop up the coffin and build a small boat from the wood. Do not invite anyone. No one will come. Push the boat across the dunes and fumble a bit to take the attention off death crawling in the chest. When the boat is halfway into the sea, leave the shoes in the sand. Face the land once and be regrettable about the whole thing. Consider the many things left behind such as sofas, lovers, balls of dust, smudged windows and dirty underwear. Shove the boat with every muscle, stretch out the red under skin. Push until seawater eats at the knees, then bend the legs and climb aboard. Do not face land again. There is only the horizon.