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Fall/Winter 2017



Denise Low

SITTING IN A DEAD MANíS CHAIR

Norbert Brei, why a ceramic Saint Francis,
the rusty outlined howling Coyote?
Okay, I see more Coyotes pose on the shelf.
Another Francis blesses. Your office totems
invoke guiding spirits of Assisi and Dinetah,
blessings of Italy, New Mexico’s Navajo Land.

Here taped to the writing table is an address,
Emmett’s,3416 Groman Ct., Albuquerque.
Why this quotation next to it, “I live in a shack
on the edge of whorehouse row/me, autumn,
a single candle,”Ikkyu, the Zen master,

what you chose instead of Ikkyu’s other words,
“Nature’s a killer, I won’t sing to it, I hold my breath
and listen to the dead singing under the grass,”
where you are, Norbert, somewhere underground
where roots sing, where you are as still as this cabin.

I lie down in your coffin—no, in your chair,
nice view out the window past Coyote and Francis,
a deer trail through old apple orchards. Dutch iris
unfurl purple sleeves this perfect June morning.
Your family addresses stick to my arms, tape brittle,
San Diego for Christopher and Coronado for Barbara.

I salute them and you, as a gladiator on this side
of the river. I am one about to die, who knows when.
Death will be for a long while, like your absence,

or do you remain here in some voodoo trance
ventriloquist who voices pet wolves, your books,
your table’s collage of zip codes, names, Zen wisdom,
something inked, from Rilke, “The purpose of life is
to be defeated by greater and greater things.”

 

 


Denise Lowís 2018 book Shadow Light is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editorís Choice Award. She is a former Kansas Poet Laureate. Her memoir Turtleís Beating Heart is from University of Nebraska Press.

 


 

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