Where the Dead and the Living Meet Poem by Janet Buck


This seemed a place where
the dead and the living met
for a fraction of hovering time.
Cobwebs added eerie light —
gauze above amorphous sore.
Casablanca storms were new.
No foiled loves had soiled the rain.
All our props and costumes fit.
Weeping and all facts of grief
lay ahead of open eyes
without large sacks
weighted by the coming stone.
At that presumptuous age,
we were sure that a shoe
would lead to a foot.
A hat would uncover a head with hair.
We still believed in movie screens,
in metatags of heroines.
Suns knew nothing of eclipse.

Down the creaking basement stairs
sat nests of fragile Fabergés
existing for expectant crack.
Dusty treasures, dresser drawers,
someone’s musty voyages.
Give us boxes; we made shapes.
Never thought of mushy bottoms
giving in to lifting seasons from the land.
Each breath we took, each step we made,
a scoop across a stallion’s back
racing for the river’s edge.
Later we would wake like cats
that spent their lives in search of milk —
groping for the backspace key.
Death was such a distant game —
looking didn’t scorch our hands.
Even funereal black
was just a color of paint.

by Janet I. Buck