In Memory

They put the dead into the ground. As if they were seeds. But nothing ever grows from them. The dead only shrink. Their stories fade and their faces blur and even their names become the dust. The things they carried disperse like spores. Their words and their phrases and the songs they had hummed. What secrets they kept, the few remainders, in the trunk of their hearts. A tire-iron, a jack and a spare. Jumper cables and snow-chains, a can of motor oil  and a shoebox stuffed with maps. Laid out in the driveway between ten and two on a sycamore Saturday afternoon.

They give us laminated prayer cards, a saint on one side, on the other an appeal for mercy, or hope. They give them slabs of metamorphic carbonate, and cut their names into the stone. That buys them a hundred years or more of potential enunciation, a word inside a mouth, a rhythmic sound, a vibration, repeated so many times that it breathes an illusion of life into a world that is itself an illusion.

From mind to mind, and heart to heart, a flicker of events, like stars named after gods and monsters, pulsing in the dark. A throbbing matrix of perceptions, echoes and reverberates, to verify each other and fix them fast to place and time like flies stuck to translucent amber ribbons, their legs struggling vainly against the simple genius of the glue.

The bones, we keep. The crucibles of the body’s blood. We seal them in dark boxes, as if eighty-odd years of darkness wasn’t long enough. The bones hold no stories of their own, they cherish no sensory perception. But they are all that’s vaguely recognizable of an agile, upright version of a self. The hidden form beneath the mirrored form, as if mass is proof of life. Hardness, Solidity. Weight. Like the marble marker which bears the name. If names and bodies mean anything we’re merely tombstones all.

We bury them like acorns, and leave them to the rain. Flesh will rot and blood will rust. Everything returns. To letters. To numbers. To distances and atomic weights. The periodic table’s just an alphabet for the alchemy of us. If we are made of stars than the opposite is true. The light of distant heavenly bodies is not screaming toward us, it is us.

What is there of us when no fragmentary images remain? When we pass out of memory. The Earth no longer knows (Is the only difference between the living and the dead a remnant of a fleeting perception?). I am filled with my perceptions. I’m a beehive where dreams are sealed in honeycombs.

In memory resides the radicle of self.

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