Even the dead feel incomplete and drift
through the garden floor like a feeling
of displacement or the scent of rain.
You know that smell, the way a body knows
to end the dream and drink. It knows itself
as mostly water and therefore passing through.
The breath of millions polishes the wall
of the mourner’s eye, the mason’s marble,
the stone façade of the foreclosed bank
where an unnamed soul carved the year
and then, to make it matter, a lunette,
pale against the keystone of the threshold.
To think the bricks of the arch are held
aloft by virtue of their downward pull,
like an afterlife that way, or the friend
whose place in the undercroft exalts him.
And though he talks as if I were not there,
I feel him. I hear his broken language.
So much he left behind, beneath the pillars
of the bold chorale, where the surplus
we call beauty or blood overfills the vessel.
Bruce Bond is the author of thirty-five books including, most recently, Patmos (Juniper Prize, UMass, 2021), Behemoth (New Criterion Prize, 2021), Liberation of Dissonance (Schaffner Award for Literature in Music, Schaffner, 2022), Choreomania (MadHat, 2023), and Invention of the Wilderness (LSU, 2023), plus two books of criticism, Immanent Distance (UMichigan, 2015) and Plurality and the Poetics of Self (Palgrave, 2019). Among his forthcoming books are Therapon (inspired by Emmanuel Levinas and co-authored with Dan Beachy-Quick, Tupelo), Vault (Richard Snyder Award, Ashland), and The Dove of the Morning News (Test Site Poetry Prize, U of NV).