Prairie churchyard, 2017
Lake County, South Dakota (photo by Michael Boer)
Even the Dead Dream
Stained glass window sills,
heaped with flies and bees
who will hum no more.
I found his marker
shaded by a spruce growing
beside his parents’ graves.
Awakening from melancholia,
I recalled loaning him my watch
for a year’s final midnight countdown.
Then I saw Joseph
driving his blue beetle
toward the nearby crossroads
stopped by those graves,
he swerved between shallow ditches.
He pulled a U-ey over the harrowed gravel
and screeched to a dusty halt
beside the stone prairie church.
How you been, Joe?
“Busy. Real busy. A crazy lady keeps
pestering me over some Santeria bullshit.”
Joe. I want my watch back.
Says he, scowling, “I still need it.
Until midnight, in Medellín.”
Joe. You once told me,
“I wish I could just sleep
through my whole life.”
He remembers, nodding, “Yeah,
but even the dead cannot
stay asleep long enough for me.”
Joe. What kind of shit is that?
“This? I put this on in the dark!
Does it look more like a shroud than a shirt?”
Any sharing of something as private as a dream
is imperfect, not like the way churchyard occupants
comfortably share their practice made-perfect unconsciousness.
Excerpted from Contradiction by Michael Boer, a collection of poetry, prose, and photographs, coming this winter.