Bodies, Flowerbeds: A Villanelle
The earth, carved up, engraved with bodies,
this hollow vision of death: people resting
together, bodies beneath a bed of flowers.
We soften death into poems and stories.
The art of writing is just a way of wailing
for the earth, carved up, sculpted by bodies.
In Cameroon, hair from the dead is carried,
mixed with cam wood and kept; the living
remember bodies beneath beds of flowers.
What we seek through our endless studies
sits beyond death, but the path to it is sinking
into a carved-up earth, paved with bodies.
The sharp shovel of silence briefly remedies
the ear deaf to the voices of the dead, linking
it to slender-petaled tongues in a flowerbed.
A poem or a story is an etching of memories,
dignity in the fragile face of loss. Soothing
the earth, carved up, engraved with bodies,
we hum together beside a bed of flowers.