For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

We will die, each one. I preach this to my people so the truth can’t catch us
by surprise. I make it a liturgy: One day we will die. And all my people:
We hear you, we always hear you. I insist this to my father, who knows truth
the same way I do. Still, he bristles. Testifies to good health, prophesies long
years. Everyone will die. Each time I say it, prepaying

on pending sorrow. Grieving against grief. I make it a hymn; I sing
while swimming. Over sandwiches. When a retriever pads past, golden
bleached from his muzzle. I lead a chorus as my dad turns over
the new old Camaro he can keep on my mom’s side of the garage. He drives,

not carefully, to a lawyer. Signs documents that say I will manage
the accounts. Make decisions if his sound mind slips. The lawyer calls it
a kindness, letting everything be settled. Now everyone knows

what will happen. Though I keep preaching, in love. Sure
as St. Paul and surely as zealous. Professing: Death, I never thought

you weren’t coming.





Abbie Kiefer is a poet from New Hampshire. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in various publications, including Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and Shenandoah. She was a 2022 and 2023 semifinalist in the 92Y Discovery Contest. Find her online at

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