The Dead in My Life

Stephen Morrissey

From Divisions, Coach House Press, Toronto, 1983:



to see the trees' branches
grey & archaic



against a sky
far whiter than the moon



an old woman's hair
tied in a bun



it is my grandmother's
hair   as she embraces me



she blows a strand up through yellow
& absent teeth   the hair
fallen over her forehead



o the moon is my grandmother's
bun tied in a million



knots   tied to her
ancient head with the stubby



fingers of time



her gold wedding ring



has become a part of her



hand   the flesh grown
around it so the finger



the flesh itself



is one with that
circle of gold



aureole of light
on the moon

 

2.

how often I return to them
the dead in my life
who inhabit dreams



memories while rocking
my son to sleep   or a
dream that my Uncle Alex
was alive although we



thought (in the dream)
that he had been dead
these seven years



they are like flies
beating against an autumn
                                window



flies that bang
into my face & enter



the mouth to come out
as words   this language
of flies & the dead



this ever diminishing
circus parade of old
people I hang onto
as though without them
I too would cease to be

3.

their benevolence
is there too



the kindness
at leaving shadows

 


those who have become
memories   to bury our



memories in their real

& most noble grave   the soil of
anonymity   we who
till the past & leave
cemetaries of memories
behind us until the mind



itself enters the earth
& holding handfuls of dirt
           sees whole decades



removed from our
fingers as



the earth falls
& we say
our final & most
complete goodbyes

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