The Raising of the Dead in Serbia
by Michael Brett

There is a shock in an exhumation:
A sense of wrongness at the penetration
Of a spade into a grave;

In the artillery rangefinder, the convoy
Ambles into view: the dead
Are arranged like lozenges beneath tarpaulins
On flatbed trucks;

But this is love: none could love their family more
Than to exhume them from a newly alien soil and say
Our Dead must travel and retreat with us;

For stronger than alcohol and greater than song
Is race in the Balkans.
It shapes and unshapes as alcohol and music do

In stories, in blood and earth:
When time, love, braided hair and bracelets
Are glimpsed together through the opening soil;

And all these are Venn diagram circles holding the living and the dead
Within the torque of burning towns;

And none are weighed like souls in Ancient Egypt-
Or by Saint Peter-none judged by anything save proximity in race,
In memory and song;

This convoy carries the only -defeated- soil
Not emptied of its names forever. It changes gear
To follow wobbling icons into exile, sainthood.

In 'The Odyssey' the dead crave blood and can see the future.

Copyright © 2013 - Michael Brett
Published: 1/31/13   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem