Five part poem about mortality.
How the Rats Felt
Pink eyes wandering,
Bony hands reaching to the high places
Twitching and trembling with the sounds
We introduced them all to darkness
We all felt the quiet synaptic plunge.
The Lord is with thee
The owners of the dead
Made a solemn procession.
Leaning over into the flesh bag,
Gently, gently laid the bodies to rest.
We all washed our hands like Pilate
Among all the dead ones, we helped others
Some others were allowed to live.
Blessed art thou among rats
Vapors from the shallow breaths of the dead –
Oh, we breathed them in, life through our nostrils
And they wisped out of our trained fingers,
Seeping into the living ones,
And they breathed easier, I swear.
We were the ones who did not kill that day
He restoreth the souls
Blessed be the one who gives us life for a while.
Walking Among Gravestones
He is not dead, but sleepeth.
We talked all big and alive,
There among the stones of old,
Kicked up cold dust and the crinkly grass
Like the wooly worm, the conqueror on the stone
Blood in the earth cried out against it.
Yea, though I walk through the valley,
We shall meet again.
I expect to meet an angel
Maybe one of the stone ones come down
Mourning and grappling, crying with the dead
Bless me, I say, I will not let you go.
Blessed be the one who gives us life for a while;
What we promote now
Resents change in rank later.
I will not let you go until you bless me.
The Dead Girl
Gives up its dead at night
Full of salt and seaweed
Salted those bodies away
Down in the smokehouse of the sea,
The Great Sea is the only name I know.
Dead girl walks out of the water,
Seaweed in her hair
Moon dripping from each finger
With just one thought left in her
One thought left, and it was enough
To keep the sea creatures
From her pale and sodden skin
She walks there in the moonlight
Moon dripping off every finger
And she thinks that one
That very one thought
Fear not, for behold,
Thou hast found favor with God.
The birds came out,
Those dignified taskmasters,
Silent and feathered, wings against her lips
Blessed art thou among women.
The great rolling machine of the passing of things
Surrounds me with noise,
Things that are not quite as real as you.
I have searched the sky and dug in the earth
My burrow, my good soil has been spoiled
Graves are no good for gardens.
O the goneness of things,
Like you, o my grandmother
Noble like nothing ever was
Even when you were dying
And they bore you up in all their frantic arms
Your lioness head lay on your chest
And you were thinking, yes,
Thinking that very one thought
O my legend
You were thinking hard of a way to fix things.
It was a rude interruption
We were going to talk, you see,
We were going to speak well to each other again.
Our pink eyes wide with inevitability,
Aneurysms and other things lie in wait
Handy tools to those who would be rude.
Handy tools to those who give us life for a while.
I am not a wise woman
I slap my palms on the dusty ground
Grinding my essence to grains
I have shot my house full of arrows, O God
And I am no wise woman
Sages slap their palms in the dust
Raise their hands to the higher power
While I live in vegetation, graze on the flowers
Hear, o hear,
I beat my palms in the wastelands,
Raise my hands in the place of the desert.
Slap out the cracks and wait
Wait for the rains,
Wait for the God,
Wait for the answers, the oracle
The sand is hot and dry.