What are You Doing
Among the Dead?

In the dark I am crawling
on the bedroom floor of my sister’s cancer memory,
asking, do you need to pee?
We are whisper laughing.

I am waving
my arms, demonstrating
Shiva’s dance over the pygmy
of me.

Taking credit for love, I am dancing
at a Mexican Hindu wedding,
where I later leave a dead woman’s shawl hanging
on the back of a seat.

Dust is collecting
on two boxes of animal ashes: Mojo and Siami.

I am questioning the dream
of my father’s mother never smiling,
of my advancing lips, her turning cheek.

That photo? This is what I believe:
It was only a sunfrown she made, holding her new baby.
The story is mother’s mother was never mean.

The dead are storytelling me.

2017

One Response to “What are You Doing
Among the Dead?”

  1. eduardo says:

    The stanza about the Mexican Hindu wedding suggests such a story to be told. (Just the juxtaposition of Mexican and Hindu already grabs the story-hearer’s attention.) Not having the poet to provide more details — What about the dead woman’s shawl? — we gentle readers are left to fill in the gaps ourselves.

    The title itself immediately offers (at least) two interpretations: “What are you doing?” in the sense of your not belonging among the dead — What are you doing, there? — and also (the interpretation I think is intended), Here you are among the dead. What actions/services are you doing, since you’re among the dead?

    Okay, I also laughed at, “…the pygmy of me.” You, if it is indeed you you’re poeming about, are not anywhere close to pygmyness — and if it’s not autobiographically you, well, the image is still one that brings a smile.

    Finally(?), I can smell the richness of this poem’s muck. You’ve gone deep with this one.

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