REGARDING THE DEAD
She woke up to someone
standing at the end of her bed
placing a candle on her window sill,
and for a brief moment, felt lost,
unable to recognize who she was.
It was the same presence that haunted Mary
as a child. Only now
she knew what it meant.
It began with a phone call. Which is to say,
disjointed, terrifying, plaintive, and seductive,
the sudden flood of a long forgotten memory
she could never piece together.
Mary, he spoke. But the rest
she couldn’t understand.
All she could hear was
the sound of her name her father used
when she cried out at night for him.
She was afraid
on nights when she woke,
thinking someone was in her room,
doors closing where there were only walls,
footsteps drawing near her bed where no one stood,
the breathing of a man, faint as melting ice.
All she could hear was the sound
of her name --
nails beneath the earth,
a single taper burning on a window sill
dimly touching the darkness outside,
the dreadful fathom
regarding the dead.
She saw herself driving
In the middle of the night
leaving Phoenix behind,
her face pale as the snow covered fields
of the north country,
thrusting a pole into snow
over and over again,
looking for her boy.
She saw a young man who could never remember,
being a child,
ever wanting to be anything
when he grew up.
She saw the story
of his silence,
the last thing he saw before he
went blind --
The birds were the first to go.
A flush of sparrows
from a dead apple tree --
mute funnels of smoke
from a home consumed in a constant burning.
The second to go was the wind.
Slipping through his thighs
like her fingers
when she loosened the hems
of his pants when he was six.
The last to go were the voices:
laughter, conversations, arguments;
leaving only a young boy
sitting on a porch
next to a woman.
There were no birds,
just her expression
by sunlight glittering
in distant dead winter trees.
Donavon Davidson was born and raised in the Midwest. Donavon holds an MFA from Goddard College, and his poetry has been published in Quay: A Journal of the Arts, SNreview, Holly Rose Review, and Evergreen Review. He currently lives in Vermont where he is an adjunct professor at the Community College of Vermont.