“The Dead” by Ellery Akers

March 29, 2011

Marigold in last year's garden grown from seeds saved from Mom's garden. Photo by Saira Kahn.

The boys love to take the books off the shelf, and just about every day I find myself perpetually placing novels, collections of poetry, books about dog training or Arkansas history back in their rightful place, an endless act that reminds me of my days as  Barnes and Noble employee.

This morning the boys drug out a book entitled Inventions of Farewell: A Book of Elegies edited by Sandra M. Gilbert.  The nice thing about their semi-annoying habit of daily destroying the so-called order of our bookshelves is that I get to rediscover books that I haven’t seen in years.  Such was the case this morning.  While they moved on to other forms of destruction, stacking up the couch cushions and climbing up and down and up and down, I skimmed through the book and came across this:

“The Dead”

The dead come, looking for their shoes.

It’s all right if we can’t find them:

it was only the dark, inside, they wanted.

It’s all right.  They can be the shadow of a boulder,

or the oak leaves falling, one by one.

There have been so many of them, and so few of us.

The ones we loved take our hands in the morning

and watch us:

Eyes in the river.

One day we will be like them,

and rise, like waves, out of the hot fields.

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7 Responses to ““The Dead” by Ellery Akers”

  1. Becca Seay said

    This reminds me of the movie “City of Angels” – they were everywhere.

  2. That is a great (and kind of funny) poem. I contemplated not commenting on this, but I have an addition to this post.

    When I was sitting on the couch last night feeling the need to finally relax, I spotted that book on the shelf and thought about how often the boys seem to target that book. I picked it off the shelf and turned to a short poem called Triad by Adelaide Crapsey, about three things that are silent: falling snow, the hour before dawn, the mouth of one just dead. For a moment I was the fourth thing. Such a great book.

    I left it on the couch where perhaps you found it!

    • Wow! Thank you so much for posting that! When I found it they were using it as a stair step to climb on to the couch. haha. I’m going to check out that poem. It sounds wonderful. And I like the idea of you being the silent 4th thing.

      • Oh, and I agree that this is a kind of funny poem. That’s part of what I really like. I love the juxtaposition of dead looking for shoes and the hot, decaying earth that generates more life.

  3. Emily Puckett Rodgers said

    I’m reading Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore” right now where Nakato is fretting over his half-shadow and live people’s past selves are ghosts. It reminds me of all the ghosts in our lives, looking for things and reminding us living folks about our lives and our obligations (and our joys that we can share with them).

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