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Claire Bateman is the author of The Bicycle Slow Race (Wesleyan, 1991), Friction (Eighth Mountain Press, 1998), and Clumsy (New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2003). She has taught at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, and at the Fine Arts Center of Greenville County, South Carolina. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Tennessee Arts Commission.
At the Funeral of the Ether
No one presided.
in a state of tremulous hyperclarity,
unable to decompose
or in any sense “go away,”
she who had pervaded all things
shivered, flattening herself
into two dimensions to float
like a hypothetical bridal veil
flickering inside the opalescent dream
of a spirit who has slept through
a richly candled seance in which the dead
strain to invoke the living.
But because she was
that lightness inside the heaviness
which every soul most craves,
she found herself swiftly, violently torn,
as if sliced into infinitesimal scraps
by the narrowest shard
of a shattered, half-silvered prism.
Of course, the pieces were distributed
The queen of heaven in shreds,
and no one satisfied!
This was the way it would be
for a very long time.
—Copyright 1998 Claire Bateman