I just joined a poetry group on FB yesterday evening called the Undead Poets Society. As I went over the members list I noticed several friends of friends, and intrigued, I added them as friends. One of them, a fellow from OH, posted this poem by Anne Sexton today, and I felt compelled to respond.
The Truth the Dead Know
by Anne Sexton
For my Mother, born March 1902, died March 1959
and my Father, born February 1900, died June 1959
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.
My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.
And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in the stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.
And my response: This year, I lost my father in the spring, and my fiance accompanied me down state to the wake and funeral. Two months later, we attended the wedding of a boy I half-raised. Two months after that, he suddenly died. There are things I could tell you about how the body settles into cold clay when the breath leaves it, but I can’t ever fully explain how your heart stays alive after it loses what it loves. It isn’t that the dead refuse to be blessed; we just don’t know how to bless them so we can let them go.