Tia Cowger

Winding Sheet

Ekphrastic poem from Untitled (Woman’s face between blankets), 1960s, Uknown Artist, National Gallery of Art

Dusky eye peers from a half-hidden center –
whites visible, stark against paleness of
her covered-ness, her dusky hair. She’s staring
at me, or through me, or dissociating in the
atmosphere around me, breath concealed
in folds of scratchy comfort. The blanket,
rough and white around her skin, shrouds
the rest of her like a winding sheet – arm
of the couch firm and gray, rising to meet
her like an outstretched tomb. She still
stares as she’s prepared – washed, dried,
cut up, stitched together – death cloth laid
over her, after she’s placed on the soft slab,
velvet mausoleum, single eye shining in the dusk.

About the Author

A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Tia Cowger’s work has been published in The Examined Life Journal, Gone Lawn, The Olive Press, Sheila-Na-Gig, The Coffin Bell Journal, Passengers Journal, and Wild Roof Journal.