GIVING UP THE DEAD
Is never easy.
Lines of folks there were, not only
moms and dads with young ones,
waiting to get in
to breathe for ten minutes
in a world so long defunct
we can't even imagine
the spaces between us.
The dinosaurs, titans before us,
lizardly mysteries, why did their time
come so suddenly, how did they go?
Their great necks
circle over our heads.
There was a time we had to crane
our necks just to look
into our fathers' faces.
We climbed the mountains of their knees,
sat quiet in their laps.
These are the largest creatures
we can imagine, old gods, great
grandfathers and grandmothers nobody
knows what happened to.
And yet when we touch their skin,
we find it soft as an old sofa,
soft as reading Babar in bed
before the light is turned out.
The ice yesterday glazed the fields,
white glass heightening oak leaves,
thickened petals, a solid world.
Today the dogs tear
the bare dirt with their nails,
the leaves quiver after yesterday's
unanimous white, broad stretch of ice.
The trees are smaller without
all that whiteness, there is nothing
to look up at.
How the world shifts when the old
fathers are gone. We had always been
the small ones, living under the shadows
of the huge trees, the giants
dinosaurs had warm blood, were not
reptilian at all, these ancestors
Outside my window the tiny
chipping sparrows gather. Dozens,
sweeping the ground. Barely
visible against the cold dirt,
the dried grasses, the colors
of winter. Sometimes I forget
to look, make sure
they are still there.