Write a Poem that Scares You
I’m so afraid of pissing off the dead, as if they’ll start swatting me with china, black crows, push me down the stairs—they seem to have so much time on their hands, like vituperative high school girls with long afternoons. I developed an uneasiness about the ghost of my boyfriend’s mother. Sometimes the dead don’t know they’ve died, so he rang a bell in three corners to let her know that she could go. Then the living room clock stopped the way they do in houses of the dead; then, it ran ahead. Two matches tossed in the sink, then two wet books as if they’d been starting fires in rain. The feeling of light snow. His mother had Alzheimer’s when she died, so maybe it is still confusing knowing where to go. We went to her grave beside a field of fawny grass, bright weeds, markers all around like boxes in the basement. In winter, we ran between the dead on the dirt path, red in the face, pushing through a minute. He missed his family, but the only words I remember are the white ones in her field, the dead in flight. I want to tell her, look, don’t be mad that we sleep in your bed, the electrical blanket burning my thigh, his face has the same line as mine, and he held my photo in the airport until I appeared. He gave me a spindle of white thread from your sewing box to remember you by. The space problem seems to disappear against the being here. It’s hard to find the right train, that lone woman feeling of holidays in a hotel. I don’t know where you’re going, it’s true, but the daughter of a magician came to visit and slept in the staring gallery. We need to put a few photos away. It’s like the story of the man who kept the woman he loved dead in a chair, a back room, flowers everywhere, but that didn’t help, as if the image means no one has to leave. We danced a sweet dance in the morning, dining room the one room where we were not afraid, sweeping each other in arcs elliptical as families escaping though there wasn’t any music.