The Dead

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The Dead

Do the dead cross fingers behind their backs
when they promise to lie still so long? Do
they change names and meet new friends
at mixers for the freshly gone? Do they
finally know their true selves? Regret they
did not die sooner or later, briskly or better?
Do they miss familiar bones and birthmarks,
the comfort and beauty of dark? Do they wish
to call home, wonder why words came so slow
in phrases and lines instead of like thunder—
booming its faultless once? Do they tell stories,
cultivate hobbies, ache to be naked and alone?
Reunited with loves and lovers, do they wonder
how marriage became part of the plan? Do
men and women alike finally feel children, and
children’s children, move inside Delphic bellies,
kicking and stretching in time? Do they yearn for
the weight of a hammer, the smell of sawdust,
the familiar edge of a broken tooth habitually
traced with the tongue? Depending on lure
and circumstance, do they recall individual
orgasms with pleasure or pain, wonder or
shame? Do they know the name of the last
number, see the earth’s edge because, in the
end, all planets are proven flat? Do they
cease making excuses, write poems instead?
Do they open immaculate eyes, draw and dream
at will? Do they find maps and means to fly
New York to Paris without a plane? Do they wait
shoeless in the grand lobby for a dear one
to heave his last breath, capitulate, and die? Do
they miss gloss on dry lips, the ability to kiss?
Do they watch the living come and go—a terse,
tense, distant drama without fast forward, only
real human time and its panoramic reverse?