My brother Robert Rufus was buried
before my birth. When I can I’ll ask my cousin
Dale Roy Campbell if he knows him.
I’ll never know a thing until I die.
The other voice in my head says I will
go on the same before I knew Dale Roy
circumnavigated the ocean seas.
The sentry who first spies the ship
signals through a shell its imminent arrival,
whereupon eyes pour out of huts to see
the beginning of the latest chapter
of the history of the American earth.
Such dreams come to me only in fever.
Here I live by the head of a river.
I was born by the banks of another.
I grew up near a bridge over a third river.
Dreams stoke and drench my sleeping skin.
A body writhes like this. It’s worse than sin.
I know nothing. Or does nothing know me?
Those who die before birth are to be mourned.
They have no names. No use looking
for them in the Book of Souls Departed
with its absent index, its blank pages.
I can wait as long as it takes to do this work.
Another voice agrees, the one who speaks.
Explorer, conqueror, court recorder,
American: look upon the high grass
to imagine what passed from life to death,
where what bodies did remains. It is what
hovers in the immortal clouds that never rain.
When you see him, Bobby, tell Dale Roy the earth’s
still here. I don’t know what either of you can see.
(2 November 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander