Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise

Cimetìere du Père Lachaise

As I bend down to add my lips
to the dead kisses on Oscar Wilde’s tombstone,
I can’t help but laugh
and wish there were a more punishing word
for irony than the one we have.
When cemeteries bloom, death seems
less distant, and I guess that is the point.
Père Lachaise is a city—with maps,
street signs, and pedestrians, houses full
of memories, full of fame, history, and life.
Music and art settle here: Chopin hums
Prelude number 6, Pissarro washes paintbrushes
with tears. In search of names, the living carry
freshly cut flowers, and green, perpetual moss
swaddles dead tombs. I hold onto my husband,
in this blooming winter, the first day of a new year,
and we roam without sadness through stone,
twist to an outer road where names disappear

and skeletons sculpted with the fire of remembrance,
bear the stark metonymy of place:
Dachau, Buchenwald, Ravensbrück.
Only the screeching purple birds smell
the paradox: lilies and roses can never unpollute
the stench of burning yellow stars.

 

Click the picture below to get to Finishing Line Press, where you can purchase Lune de Miel, where this poem appears. See the Chapbooks link from my home page.

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