Deadhead

She shaved her head to get closer to God, she said,
prompted by a line in a song by a band called Nirvana.
Or maybe that wasn’t the reason, & she simply
thought of it afterwards, running her trembling hands
over all that smoothness. God. Congealed light.
Stones rounded to a shine by ceaseless contact,
saplings stripped of their bark, that arresting blank
that fashion models cultivate in their stare.
White, white, sing a song of skeletons that dance.
She had followed the Dead for five years, she said,
& every concert was different & amazing. It was a lesson
in how to be natural, how to just be there. God
speaks through our impulses. If I get pregnant
or get AIDS, she said, it was meant to be.
She read omens in the flight of birds or the fall of a leaf.
This morning I saw a tree’s shadow lying on the lawn,
perfectly still, & thought about her
for the first time in years. What does it mean,
this absence remembered in the sun’s angular wake?
Is she still alive? Is she being looked after by men
in white coats? It ought to be possible to tell,
I think, suddenly superstitious. I scan the sky
over the ridge. A vulture can ride the faintest breath
for miles without flapping its wings,
as close to God as any diligent eraser.

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