Coughing at the Wake – Linda Johnston Muhlhausen

Among the mourners and the open
coffin afloat on rafts of flowers
I am barking loud enough
to wake the dead,
so a woman next to me
offers a Fisherman’s Friend lozenge
for its heart-stopping blast of menthol,
gelid as the hand of that mythic
Fisherman who reeled in our sunlit swimmer
and left us to toe the time-driven tide
on this shadowed shore –
the lozenge gratefully accepted,
the sound of bronchitis
too rude a reminder
that lungs may fill with phlegm
and fail, chests may heave for breath
to no avail.

L MuhlhausenLinda Johnston Muhlhausen’s poetry and reviews have been published in a number of publications, and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for a poetry book review. Linda co-hosts a poetry reading series and chairs a fiction writer’s group. Her novel Elephant Mountain is available on Amazon, with profits donated to African Wildlife Foundation. Linda lives and works in New Jersey.