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Which season do you prefer?
I ask the Scarseths,
whose lichen-encrusted tomb
I’m sketching
in my journal
in ink,
despite the drizzle,
the fading light,
and my fingers blued to a deep
indigo.

Their playful spirits
pepper my graven image
with tiny black spiders to pluck
and flick off.
They tear the book from
of my hands,
fling it
through the air
because they can.

Or, perhaps
I haven’t disturbed spirits at all.
It’s just the same agitated autumn breath
that burnishes oak leaves
gold and tangerine,
tosses them,
trembling,
at my feet.

Or Angel Eyes,
the towering marble statue
across the road
who weaves her blood-eyed
magic
with a downcast glance,
makes the  earth quake,
and coronas of death cap mushrooms
push up through
damp sod
like skulls.

The stone lid
rattles, rumbles open and releases
a scratched-record
confusion,
as if Jimi Hendrix
is hammering out Ave Maria
and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
at the same time,
backwards.

An armada of smoke gray clouds
sails in overhead,
snuffs out the light.
My sketch is pounded
by rain
into a churning midnight sea
splattering ink
on me,
on the ground.

I stumble to my car,
fumble for my keys,
hold my breath
like it’s wrong to breathe here.
I hear the echoing clunk
of the crypt lid closing
behind me and,
after slamming my own door shut,
I exhale into the comforting stillness
of
silence.

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Happy Day of the Dead!

8 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Ask the Dead!

  1. I really liked the way your lines are broken and centered – the stanzas are visually appealing even before reading them. There’s also a lot of vivid imagery and a very complete feeling to the way it all draws down to the final word, “silence”.

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  2. Sensually beautiful, Susan. Your writing always touches on so many powerful images, and moves me in so many directions. I found myself in this same cemetery a week ago, on a sunny day… it’s a place that stirs me to deeper thought, and quiet, contemplative moments. Clearly, it does the same for you. xox

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  3. Thank you, Dawn. Some friends and I went for a hike in the same cemetery on the 31st. It was a wild and blustery day, so much so that I had to pull out the unthinkable for the Pacific Northwest, an umbrella! (Just so my camera wouldn’t dissolve in the rain.) The Scarseths were, presumably, toasty warm under a thick blanket of autumn leaves. It was nice. XOX

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