I pried at the earth until
my prying turned to frantic clawing,
fingers to bleeding nubs, my nails
ripped off in my need. I upturned
dirt until my skin peeled back---
muscles and tendons following,
exposing bone's perfect whiteness.

As my flesh crept off, leaving me bare
I came to the wooden, hexagonal cap
of the casket and knew
that I should
The warning withering
on a breezeless breeze.
I knew what I would find in the pine box:
scraps of cloth fragile as moth wings,
tangled strands of ochre hair, my own
face---sunken and leathered---
staring back at me.


ANASTASIA STELSE is a native of southeastern Wisconsin, the assistant editor for The Intentional, and a graduate from the MFA program at American University. She is currently pursuing her PhD at USM. Her work has appeared in The Bleeding Lion.