Out of the Crystal Wool of the Sky
The dead build their houses.
No stone doors or grass-tossed wreaths.
They like interiors and space
not too much furniture
just enough room to greet you,
to invite themselves in.
They have nothing against photographs.
While you puzzle over graphic patterns
in the old class pictures, they stand
in rows in front of the school’s
gothic entrance, pointed arch, every face
distinct, clear, young, squinting
against the sun. And they love an index—
alphabetical, last name first. Letters?
They take a running jump into
that crinkled bed of words that once
looped out of hand and pen. A poem
is a station they hurry toward,
express stop. They love the space
after the line. Place to be. And in
the old films, what they’re doing is wandering
around. You won’t necessarily see them.
They might be several blocks away
from the action, admiring
the elms, the way they looked
before the blight.
© Gwen North Reiss