If Graves Could Write a Diary
Janet I. Buck

I go back to your grave
once in a leprous while.
Lay slumping tulips on the stone.
Stalks and cups stare back at me
as if they know the weep, the arch,
the guessing game.
Language is a broken shovel
spooning up the gypsies
of a sweet unknown.
I examine fulcrums of dust
in headstone cracks
like verbs my hands must conjugate.
If caskets spoke full sentences,
would you implore my hammers
on the grieving pail
to cease their tin can rattling,
live in the green of the yellowing grass,
forget these firm unchangeables.

Our photographs are all unframed
in boxes under sagging beds.
All what if's ignite, grow still.
I bring you back my meager way;
fingers and their slivered reeds
know no music, have no beat.
If graves are so inanimate
why do all their stomachs growl --
appear to pairs of passing feet
like crocodiles in jaded swamps.
Father took a razor blade,
slit the wrist of memory.
Drowned kittens of the balking dream
before they had a chance to claw.
Called it moving on, of course,
like prostitutes call sex a job,
then feel too much between their thighs.
Quicksand in the wishing well
demanded he dilute the grain.

Top of page