Do Not Speak of the Dead
“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
I was born among the bodies. I was hurried
forward, and sealed a thin life for myself.
I have shortened my name, and walk with
a limp. I place pebbles in milk and offer
them to my children when there is nothing
else. We can not live on cold blood alone.
In a dream, I am ungendered, and the moon
is just the moon having a thought of itself.
I am a wolf masked in the scent of its prey
and I am driven—hawk like—to the dark
center of things. I have grasped my eager
heart in my own talons. I am made of fire,
and all fire passes through me. I am made
of smoke and all smoke passes through me.
Now the bodies are just calcified gravity,
built up and broken down over the years.
Somewhere there are phantoms having their
own funerals over and over again. The same
scene for centuries. The same moon rolling
down the gutter of the same sky. Somewhere
they place a door at the beginning of a field
and call it property. Somewhere, a tired man
won’t let go of his dead wife’s hand. God
is a performing artist working only with
light and stone. Death is just a child come to
take us by the hand, and lead us gently away.
Fear is the paralyzing agent, the viper that
swallows us living and whole. And the devil,
wears a crooked badge, multiplies everything
by three. You—my dark friend. And me.
Copyright © 2015 by Cecilia Llompart. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 30, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I began this poem while reading a book about the sordid history of the persecution of witches—which is really just another way of saying the persecution of women—and it continued to develop in light of the continued unrest and very necessary protests that have punctuated the past few months. It also serves as a kind of meditation on death and on crossing over and on loosening the grip of fear on our lives. Three days after I finished the poem, my grandfather passed away and my grandmother had a vision of a child taking him by the hand at the moment of his last breath.”
Cecilia Llompart is the author of The Wingless (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2014). She currently teaches freelance creative writing workshops and divides her time between the United States and France.
Date Published: 2015-06-30
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/do-not-speak-dead