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All Souls Night

ISSUE:  Winter 2009

Autumn and its thousand adjectives have come
to this, a swither in the trees,
their limbs bronchial and backlit in the gloam.
The groundhog drowses toward his long sleep.
And I am occupied with the dead, whose night
this is, to whom every night belongs.
The earth hoards them in a miserly embrace,
and we sit by our fires or blinking lamps and try
to recall the husk of a voice, the fallow scent
of grandfathers. Tonight they search the earth,
it is said, wandering as strangers to houses
they no longer recognize. Supper waits
on the table, with immaculate patience.
Perhaps it is true—they follow what sounded
like a familiar voice, a face they think
they might have known, stilled in sleep.
The crust of frost the morning brings may prove
it true, a heave in the land, as last confessions
whispered to the soil which holds them, holds
the bulbs we planted for the spring, and hope for.
The earth will sleep now for its season, the earth
to which, known and unknown, all flesh shall come.


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