Undressing the Dead

      Hast’ou a deeper planting, doth thy death year
      Bring swifter shoot?
      Hast thou entered more deeply the mountain?
                             — Ezra Pound

That the hair kept growing after death,
we knew--and the fingernails--as though
some final message had been sent
but not received, had rippled out
through axon, dendrite, synapse, yet
not quite reached the shore.

But that the heart beat, too,
that involuntary muscle, kept contracting,
pumping blood, and the nipples,
little halos, still would harden,
come erect to the tongue,
surprised us both.

What else is there, after all,
the dying sigh?  A slight electric
current in the mind?  No, not
the brain, the mind--that folded
puzzle, nest of dreams,
perception and proposition:

    All men are mortal.
    Socrates is a man.
    Can Socrates be immortal?  

“We may come back again,” she said,
“or pass this way but once,”
but the lights were going out
below in town as we took off
our shirts, and the grass
where we lay down
kept right on growing.


Hear it:


Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet