We are the dead, I’m only learning.
I’m only now learning to be doing
what I always wanted to do,
and only now learning to give a name
to the moment, because I am the dead,
and you are the dead, and the dead are also around us.
I like to remember this, to turn the we
into a you and an I for a little while.
I like to ask you what you see out there
and then to return to the notes I made when I did it.
I went to a funeral, and I got up there
and said something. I was there with my sister.
We were reading the words. Natalie walked in
with her baby, and I thought about poetry.
My sister was talking. I thought about how dead
we all are in the future, where we’re going,
and how a baby figures into all of this.
We used to be babies. I’ve given it some thought,
but I’m only learning. We know, for instance, our power
in the aggregate as opposed to our weakness on our own.
We feel the irresistible pull, but it’s only the dead,
and they’re dead. My sister and I were there on the stage
imagining the pull of the ground, and I said it was confusing.
Someone was dead, and while they were dying, it felt
like they were trying not to, but there’s no not dying.
My grandmother is gone, and now the constellations
are trying to tell me something. No, they aren’t.
I’m trying to tell myself, and I’m using the stars.
It’s confusing, but I think it’s mostly okay.
I’m thinking about Natalie at the gravesite
with the baby, and all of us there
surrounded by so many stones.
I’m learning to see what I am in what I wanted
to do and what I’m doing now, but hopefully
more the latter. I read in the words confusion
over what we become, for we become dead,
and our words flash before
the gathered congregation. We hope,
in dying, there will be someone left
to provide the context. What was it
we were trying to do? There have been all of these
distractions, and I seem to have forgotten.
p>Seth Landman lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. He is the author of Sign You Were Mistaken (Factory Hollow Press, 2013) and Confidence (Brooklyn Arts Press, forthcoming).