For One Dead

What would you like, little bone-star?

Would the suicided person please stand up?
Would they please tell the height of their pain
            the very top of the trees of it
            where it extends dentricles upward

would we prefer their death or this saying of it?

they would sit with the right person
the right person
and tell their pain.
that person would build a shield around the pain
a thin wooden structure half circle uneven
they would leave it there for three days.

on the third would pick it up
and say                      their words. What words they have.
This would be the listening & the telling.


Copyright © 2020 by Helen Dimos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I thought I wrote this poem for and about a friend who died this year, and I did, but now I think it’s also about someone else much closer to home. One aspect I see in the poem is the fantasy—and the deep desire—for someone else to see the self, all the way down, to be able to see the pain and the history and to offer healing and redemption and a way out and up. The fantasy and desire that we are able to do this for each other is perhaps one of the spaces that engenders poems. If the poem is doing what it needs to, what I say here will be less than it.”
Helen Dimos