A shotgun’s double impact’s
A breeze that catches them
By the shoulder: a quarter turn,
A footstep’s setback,
And then they advance again.
In nightgowns and pinstripe suits—
A six-year-old in soccer cleats—
The attire in which they undied,
They march, arms forward, wrists loose.
Temporary birthmarks, black
Soil particles on eyelids, lips—
You almost want to wipe them off—
Still moist from the grave’s deliverance,
Tell you you’re much too close.
Rush that precedes headlights
At a subway stop, blasts, then flattens
On your face—you sense remnants
Of meals they did and still must eat—
Is breath that proceeds from tunnels
In their chests: vaulted, ribbed,
Chilled as any cathedral’s; nothing’s
So horrific as the heart that’s stilled
Yet keeps insisting: twist of smoke
Above snuffed votive candles.
Cold. Burning. Is this what you meant
When you spoke of undying love—
Endless yearning: what sends
Restless freaks in rural Pennsylvania
To keep their resurrected flesh from turning?
It did no good to keep them out
With two-by-fours planked
To windows and doors. Pie slice
Interstices, corners, their fingers discovered
Crescents unshining under the tips.
They were already in the house,
In the basement, having turned
An eight year-old to ageless through alchemy
Of saliva and an overbite—no less.
One sits now with her back facing
You. You anticipate her turn—
It’s a swivel chair—and confirmation
That on her shoulder, forehead, are not
Marks of rejection, but wounds.
And the string in the back of your marionette
Courage is scissored. You advance,
Arms branching for an embrace:
Why was it that you put her away?
Why do you not stop calling her back?