How the Dead Keep Their Voices

out of darkness sometimes in the night
we wake to voices of our dead connections
unhappy parents gone to an embittered

death a grandmother remembered
intonations of a vanished lover maybe
disembodied grieving Echo answering

across the gulf between us between
all of us rising from places deep
in the soul where voices live that

penetrate the wax we have stuffed
in our ears that we would hear even
if we were altogether without ears

schizophrenics and holy men know it
directly prophets and poets keep it
as a special resource years after

they are done lying in bed one morning
edging out of sleep actors hear whole
scenes from Shakespeare or Miller

so it is the dead all that they have
said we find near at hand excited
by the wind in the trees in the night

a fierce storm bending limbs about
to split fortunes calls names although
sometimes they are shouting or laughing

or singing aubades of Sirens just before
the dawn that fades from the meadow
as the morning sun burns off the fog

they return as if they never left
prepared to take them back we offer
them a place at the table the old

bedroom they preferred return
their prestige and rank in the family
try to recall what we might have said

that the dead could hear apologize
for having thought we could forget
them entirely relieved that they speak

kinder in death than ever they did
in life which we should know anyway
our dead keep their voices in the soul

a very human holy place deep in
darknesses we too easily forget
places called exigency and forbearing