Reginald Dwayne Betts

At the End of Life, a Secret

Everything measured. A man twists
a tuft of your hair out for no reason
other than you are naked before him
and he is bored. Moments ago he was
weighing your gallbladder, and then
he was staring at the empty space where
your lungs were. Even dead, we still say
you are an organ donor, as if something
other than taxes outlasts death. Your feet
are regular feet. Two of them,
and there is no mark to suggest you were
an expert mathematician, that you were
the first runner-up in debate championships,
1956, Tapioca, Illinois. From the time your body
was carted before him, to the time your
dead body is being sent to the coffin,
every pound is accounted for, except 22 grams.
The man is a praying man & has figured
what it means. He says this is the soul, finally,
after the breath has gone. The soul: less than
4,000 dollars worth of crack—22 grams—
all that moves you through this world.