Karen Paul Holmes

What Will You Do, God, When I Die
          – after a line by Rilke

Will you become me, and I you
as I leave this body, the only home I remember?
Will rejoining be peace,
pure joy—multiplied, multiplied,
more even than I feel
lying drowsy in my love’s embrace?

I believe you are the light
that passes through every body, the space
occupying each atom, water
permeating the sponge
of all flesh, all matter.
They say I am that, but in this human
being-ness, have forgotten.

Will you give me a white tassel, light as breath
for passing all my lifetimes?
Or send me back to trudge again through
the thousand lessons I failed?

This time, I think I learned to love
the right way, to find you in the solar plexus.
I have felt sorrow’s blade
carving a place for grace to fill.
Am I ready to rise with this mist
lifting from the river in morning’s silver.


Karen Paul Holmes has a full-length poetry collection, Untying the Knot (Aldrich Press, 2014). She was chosen for Best Emerging Poets 2015 (Stay Thirsty Media, forthcoming). Publications include Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Slipstream, and Tar River Poetry. To support fellow writers, Holmes originated and hosts a critique group in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains.