Espagnole: Harmonie en Blue, 1923
Why shouldn’t the dead go on speaking?
Here is a woman in a lace mantilla,
black fan snapped shut, bangles
on her wrists, arm resting on a table.
Around her neck, a choker of pearls.
She looks in my eyes straight as a shot
of Cognac. Her mouth parts slightly.
What is she trying to say? I have been
listening, hoping to hear my own dead friends:
Clare, Michèle, Adrianne. Snippets
come to me in birdsong, in gesture,
in the dark wing of a stranger’s hair.
But it’s like deciphering code, or reading
through water. The dead have their own
language. Are they restless, do they long
to come back, smell peonies in spring?
Or is being dead enough, the end of the story,
the book gently closing, and the conversation over?
This poem was first published in Barbara Crooker's book, Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017).
Barbara Crooker is the author of eight books of poetry; Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017) is the most recent. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, and she has received a number of awards, including the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her website is www.barbaracrooker.com
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