When the dead have had enough of us

They gather around wood tables with big mugs of tea or beer or good black coffee, steaming and deep and hot, and slabs of pie — apple, mince, and pecan — with hunks of hoop cheese, red-skinned and waxy and sweating with the heat they brought with them, those remembered childhood summers, of dusted sun and vining days, the in-betweening of skin and light, the gentle pull of tides against oceans of dreaming and longing, all recalled moments spent in the bodies they’ve left behind now as dust and ash. They hash out old stories and notions, tell tales of flesh and spirit, how woodsmoke sings the song of fire, how the higher you climb in an oak the better you’ll hear it. They play games of cards, spades and hearts and spit and whist. They jitterbug and jump and laugh and scratch their bellies. They travel in packs about the dimensions, conjuring up clues and come-hithers, telling the hawk when to arrive, and the butterflies just the right moment to flit past so that they land near our feet. They play guitar and zither and the nomad flute. They scoot around on rollerblades and Vespas and in muscle cars with sweet Ray Charles blasting out the windows — Hallelujah, I Love Her So. They shoot eight ball on blue velvet tables and build midnight villas off the coast of Greece, swimming mostly when it rains and all their world is wet at once, reminding them how easily love comes. They feed the babies chocolate stars and ride on trains through frontier towns, and they run, oh how they run, to the river, to the sky, to the sea, to the light that delivers them — from us. How we weigh them down. They love us more than even that pie, but how it pulls at their joy when we anguish and cry, how they look on and over us every chance, laughing and shouting and slapping hands and calling each other by their eternal names, wanting nothing more than that we remember; that we remember, the whole point is to dance.

Mary Carroll-Hackett
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