Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Poem: "Tracing Death"


Tracing Death

We trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb

                        Phillis Wheatley, “To a Lady on the Death of Three Relations”


The life that sailed from sight, the life to come,
the life that scribbles softly in between—
we trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.

A woman fell backwards, stunned in her womb.
Extracted from her dry eyes by the men
the life that sailed from sight, the life to come.

Elsewhere a bride is waiting for her groom,
around her mouth sweat gathers to a sheen.
We trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.

Studying Virgil in the children’s room,
the slave hears from the Carthaginian queen
the life that sailed from sight, the life to come.

The writing starts, and stops, and then resumes.
In graceful elegies out of her pen,
we trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.

Pray for us, Lady of our certain doom,
that we may bring home safe by line nineteen
the life that sailed from sight, the life to come.
We trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.

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