Sally O’Dowd is the author of the poetry collection Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss.

The plaster cast of rigor mortis
held your bones and muscles in place;
death looked up at me —
you want to arm wrestle?

I couldn’t lift you
for a last embrace
before the undertakers
took you away.

With the wrinkles on your face erased,
you looked like you did 20 years ago,
when you didn’t seem to age,
when you laughed-it-off,
tended to your rose garden.

After your circulation stopped,
I kissed your lips,
no longer pink; — beige.
Having worn sun-blush lipstick
to the grocery store,
you would have preferred
to leave the house another way.


A friend took me out
a few weeks later
to take a leave from grief.

A man asked me to dance.

Imprisoned by the death plaster
all I could see,
through his green eyes,
was beige.

5 Years Ago Yesterday. Love Letter #2 Acrylic and glitter on canvas © Katherine Rohrbacher. Katherine
is an artist living in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Her work was recently shown at Crestwoods Art Gallery in neighboring Roanoke. Thank you, Crestwoods, for supporting creative expression in the Midwest and beyond.

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