the dead came in threes
from between the trees
they slipped in through the cracks
catching me up on their backs.
the first: she was young, she was fair, she was lovely
the apple of her mothers’ eye, the jewel upon her aunties’ crown,
with plump smooth cheeks and never a frown she stood gazing down
on me with a brilliant smile beckoning
to come with her and we glided on.
then came the tiger with mustachios like lashios
bristling, sharp, stiff, pointed
he kept them twirled and oiled and anointed
while he barked out Left! Right! Left! Right!
i left him there to ponder and stare
while sitting against a wall with my mother,
where she talked about beaches and the cost of peaches,
i sat and erased and rubbed away
the mark that a sharpie had made one fine day
on a sheet of paper where there was a name stricken through
it said Jim and was darkened with shame
and over the years another Jim took the blame
for something that never had been quite true.
so i leaned over and showed her and said,
“take a look” and she stopped talking and saw that hidden below
the dead space once blackened had begun to now glow,
her face filled with wonder her eyes filled with tears
as she finally saw thirty years worth of fears
were based on a lie, on a word misunderstood
and that’s when my granny took me back to the wood:
she came prettily pink with a gauzy black veil
lilac, lily of the valley, and sambac all marking her trail
she took me, we walked, we talked, we held hands
we went to where her mother lay beneath all the lands
then she smiled and she left me
the dead went away,
back through the cracks till the dawn of this day
it arose and awoke brought me out of my dream
and that’s when my children jumped on my bed as a team.