Noosing the dead
I am tired
of trying to noose the dead
on their blind paths
with my garlands of musty flowers,
and the prickly bracelets of roses.
I have laced
violets to tenuous ankles,
with lily latchets, set
a thousand wild flower snares, thrown
nets of jonquils to haul in
the memories rattling in the dry skulls.
Yet I cannot stop
the petals from withering
or the dead
from slipping through their bones.
I light candles
to dazzle their sightless eyes,
so they will flutter softly
like moths mouthing in the dark.
I hold out thorn-apple to
their bloodless lips, hoping the scent
might drug their will to leave.
And all the time I know
it is wasted. The dead must be set free
to shift shapes in the dark, to plunge
further, deeper, into
cavernous shadows, flicker
under high vaults of alabaster, roar
voiceless into black waters,
lose themselves in the night
which has no end.
Sometimes they leave
soft tracks in snow, a handprint
blown in dust on a rock wall, a pool
of light shimmering in
dark shade. And sometimes
they leave nothing at all.
Noosing the dead by Gabriel Griffin received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2018) judged by Mandy Pannett.