High in the hills, the dead

This entry is part 60 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12


are pressed into crevices of limestone.

Their limbs, their bones, are smaller now,
pebbled or smoothly pleated. Their shrouds

have attained the quality of paper.
Tresses? Eyelash hair? These have become

slight as wind, but brittle. Removed from
village life, they do not care if animals

inquire into their secrets, hoard seeds
or feathers in the louvres of their ribs.

Nights dark as ink, then dawns
splayed through blue fingers of pine.

If it were here and whole, the heart
would think this was a nest.


             “Let heaven and earth be my coffins…” ~ Chuang-tzu



In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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3 Replies to “High in the hills, the dead”

  1. I love it too.

    Luisa, I’ve just been reading Emily Carr’s “Klee Wyck,” about her visits to the Haida villages on the Pacific coast as a young woman (the name of the book was the name the Indians gave her — it means “Laughing One.”) She went there to sketch the totem poles, and often speaks about the graves perched in some of them. I learned of this as a child myself, and a lot of my feelings on discovering that came back to me as I read Emily’s poems. It’s such a difficult idea for most of us — of leaving bones out in the air — and yet somehow I like it. I always felt privileged when I came upon bleached animal or bird bones in the forest, in their natural grave of leaves.

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