Say Something Back

Still looking for lost people – look unrelentingly.
‘They died’ is not an utterance in the syntax of life
where they belonged, no belong – reanimate them
not minding if the still living turn away, casually.
Winds ruck up its skin so the sea tilts from red-blue
to blue-red: into the puckering water go his ashes
who was steadier than these elements. Thickness
of some surviving thing that sits there, bland. It’s
owner’s gone nor does the idiot howl – while I’m
unquiet as a talkative ear. Spring heat, a cherry
tree’s fresh bronze leave fan out and gleam – to
converse with shades, yourself become a shadow.
The souls of the dead are the spirit of language:
you hear them alight inside that spoken thought.

Denise Riley
(From Say Something Back, PICADOR)


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