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--- K E L L Y   B A N C R O F T


The afterlife's fitness instructor measures me for the gear I will wear eternally. Upside-down in her chrome whistle I float.

I want the one robe in her collection of numbered jerseys and jodhpurs. I do my best karate kick, screech, temple my hands together, bow.

But she delivers a figure-skating costume, bangles glaring like her stopped watch face in which I also float. I try to halve a board with my bare hand. She shakes her pretty head, earrings knelling No use. No use. Nobody knows the business better. She's done it forever.


The night after our first fight, black planes drop paratroopers onto a field of ruins I must vault and scale to find you, to find everyone, to warn you all the world, at last, is done with.

The closer the skydivers get, the smaller. They land in our hands, toy soldiers in chintzy chutes creased like new

Christmas shirts. Safety-pinned to their camoflage, messages for each of us: Don't forget the 16th. The egg is hidden in the bicycle basket. Eat your vegetables.

Later, a roofless church, overturned pews, graffiti-stained windows, my face in the dents of offering plates. Every book is opened to the same tattered dirge. A vandal has left his initials: M.T.

Only when I tell you this, next morning, do I hear the warning--M.T. Empty. Every hymn I've ever tried to sing.

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