In Sumeria, they talked of the cramped and dusty room
where the dead sat, barefoot and wet, eating dirt
for all eternity. No one cared if you deserved it.
No one was rewarded for good works or virtue.
Everyone picked sand from their teeth, sneezing on dust,
tonguing packed mouthfuls of clay.
Sometimes I talk about death. Mostly I talk about nothing.
Mostly I stare at the ceiling, too tired to sleep,
imagining my place in the room of the dead.
My bench is too hard. I have an ingrown toenail.
I sit across from King Gilgamesh, half-god savior of Uruk,
now dressed in dirty rags, beard ragged and full of dust.
“Them’s the breaks,” he mumbles through his clay.
“What did you want, a medal?”
I pull the thin sheets over my head,
ignoring the balls of dust clinging to the ceiling,
dead travelers in a line.