Vo l . 6 N o . 2
Sand into Sand
We dream, sometimes, if we are lucky, To bring back the dead. It’s no use of course. Even if we knew them once, If they were buried They’ve rotted now beyond recall, The flesh has dried to Bombay Duck And the same peculiar smell. If they were burnt, the heat has gone, The flame that once danced blue must have Hesitated, twisted against a landscape Of people bent in pensive ritual, And gone out, gone away, gone.
Like a ruff, And the ruff collapsed into a pile of grey and dirty grains. I would like to say I took a rake and with it Smoothed over all that calamity, all that chaos, all that desiccation, But I couldn’t. I never did; I never have; I never will. I awoke grateful that it was I who was the dreamer And you the dreamed. Sometimes we dream to bring back the dead Just to celebrate we are alive, Just to dance in the warm and giving sand. Sometimes.
It’s no use of course. When we do bring them back, they sit stubbornly Like dogs whose only joy in life is to squat Bums glued to the ground; legs locked; growling softly. The lead is taut, the collar crimps along the throat, And they like it that way. No treat can sway them; no command obey. It’s no use of course. But last night I summoned you back Twenty years gone; no, twenty-two or three. Not all of you came. In fact just the face. Against a disk of crumbling greyish sand, Your head rose up in bas relief, but took in only sky. You cast no glance at me. I reached to feel the smooth, pulsing warmth of veined flesh But my hand broke through your cheekbone In just the way a spoon bites into sugar Even the same sound: the muted, civilized thrust of spade cleaving earth. I would like to say that I kissed you and with that moisture Remade the sand, recast the face, achieved a beauty that was never there. But I didn’t. Your face collapsed into the sand that ringed it
A Journal for the North Pacific Rim