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This Was a Person

This Was a Person

I watch a man caught in the crook
of another man’s arm die
again and again.
I’ve witnessed the way skin dulls
and darkens as the heart sputters
to a stop.
Too many times I’ve stroked foreheads
with gloved hands and murmured
benedictions over the whoosh
of ventilators.

Now, in the after, the reservoir
of my tears runs dry and my prayers
wither before they root.
I watch the man on the video die
and the hollow beneath my breastbone
My poet friend divines my sorrow
and says Go, listen to the trees.

On the edge of rain washed
woods, blackbirds preen in puddles
while songbirds raise manic hymns.
The geese honk arpeggios in a minor
key. I cannot hear what the trees
whisper and forge deeper into the forest.

Each time I pronounce someone dead,
I close their eyes and think
Remember, this was a person.
One day, I forgot and the woman
stared at the low hung ceiling
until someone zipped her
into the body bag.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget a person,
especially when he’s tired and hungry and fed
up on the subway.
I trudge under a bluebird sky
to the clearing where roots of hickory
and holly trees embrace.
I do not want to forget.
The wind weeps and baptizes
me with yesterday’s rain.

The trees sigh

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