Jessamyn Smyth

Issue #
September 7, 2014

Songs for the Dead Beloved

It was the bear’s face, not the wolf’s,
that resembled yours in sleep; down
under the large paw, denned in dreams
of certain unity and salmon—

              so in a patch of late snow
              my hand melted
              Neolithic signature.

              Iceburn language
              for what can’t be

half a turn now, this planet without
beating heart. His face my scotoma,
the only constellation.

              I want the sky
              to be the ceiling
              that caught you rising.

Mourning doves. Chickadees. Coyote howls.
Say nothing, please, I ask the owls. I cannot bear it.
In the far west

              restless mountains search:
              see how jagged and lean,
              what chasms open dusklight

with fingernail slivered moons
spilling into fjords. Under the black,
sure and fast, an orca brings you home.

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