Befriending The Dead

You took a continent with you when you died.
​I visited, recently, reluctantly, your foreign
grave, took a too-efficient train to a city
that does not speak our names. Your tomb
hidden amongst crosses and flowers, and I
working to convince the caretaker I’m right

about the remains of a friend hidden right
on his morbid map of people who died
waiting for friends and visitors. I
am, he says, a pilgrim. My foreign
kneeling and chanting by your tomb
reminds him of a world he lost, a city

filled with lovers, windows, flowers. A city
where the dead were permanent, had the right
to privacy, the right to constancy. Where a tomb
was forever. Where one could stop, once one died,
the work of accommodation. Where foreign
limbs never captured used graves. I find I

am made of questions and crystals. I
find my soles traversing this city
that swallowed you in a slow, foreign
gulp. I find myself walking right
next to a stranger whose laughter died
in this city, now hides by the tomb

of a writer dead long before that tomb
knew him. We grow into each other, I,
this stranger, and these people who’ve died,
bound by the cobblestone of this city,
the centuries woven into it. We earn the right
to befriend these dead, no longer so foreign.

Over time, the stones too grow less foreign,
the church of once decapitated kings, a tomb
to ideals lost to the return of the right.
Tombs full of lipstick and cigarettes, I
remember our midnights in another city
before you began to die. Before friends died.

I think of the moon on a foreign, bursting shoreline. I
excavate dreams buried by your tomb in this city,
right where you left them, alive, four years after you died. 

This poem was first published here in ​Cha: The Asian Literary Journal, as one of the runners up in the competition “The Other Side”. 

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