Poem for Making our Dead Visible

They come into the light 
drawn by votives floated on water.

Gold flame of candles, our mouthed 
prayers; banners painted for protest 
marches in the aftermath 

of their deaths— For years to come 
they'll eat 

the offerings we leave 
on makeshift altars: spaces 
cleared on top of the TV stand, 

the tiled counter next to the sink,
a subway entrance, a street corner—

When a butterfly
When a bird of a different color
When a residue of ash forms the hand-
drawn shapes of their names 

When a pattern of lifted fish scales
makes a trellis on the body—

Memory makes a silk knot
in the vein. 

Memory rushes away, sure of its going; 
escort now to the migratory flock.

In the wood, the trees only appear identical. 
The moon when it rises scatters words
of mother-of-pearl.

Memory finds the rusted padlock, the boarding pass;
the wooden plank, the plastic gun in the park.

Notice how a blade of grass, held
against skin, is both soft
and sharp enough.  
 

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