from Practicing the Truth
(Autumn House Press)
The dead can’t hear us when we talk:
there isn’t air thin enough
for our words, solid as they are,
to get through that sieve light makes.
Static of light. Static of salt.
And we can’t hear them, either:
sometimes they try to speak to us,
but when they open their mouths,
light comes out.
They are fisherman
who have stepped out of their oilskins
and dropped off the side of the boat,
naked, into the sea.
It’s not that they can’t hear our hoarse breath:
they can. But our grief sounds to them
like the barking of seals far off:
they can’t remember what it means,
though they know they used to know.
© Ellery Akers