Amy Souza and Cristal Brawley

Cristal Brawley
Inspiration piece

Talking to the Dead
By Amy Souza

1. They don’t care about salmonberries or our fear of needles overcome. We hope they miss us but we don’t know. We only know life. Green grass and river flowing. We can’t know death until we get there and the dead won’t spill their secrets to help us plan. Keep their beauty in our mind’s eye, miss their purple wings. The way their face lit up when they saw us. If we talk now, we might find their voice strange or feel attacked by their demeanor. How calm and happy they sound without us. Will they pay us any notice? Or will we look through fogged glass at a party so exclusive we can only imagine the particulars. Reminded we’re alone, surrounded by chance and seeking pattern. We think a shimmering curtain means they’re close but what if they have their own agenda that doesn’t include us.

2. A shaman saw a woman standing by me, so connected she couldn’t let go, with pain the shaman said transferred through the veil. She had a round face, wore black. Your grandmother, said the shaman, and then told the woman to leave. Tu lembra de mim? Aprendi tua lingua para que possamos falar. I learned that desire for the other side goes both ways and maybe is a family trait.

3. This morning my husband sounds like a stranger at the end of a shaky phone line and I feel like I’m talking to someone beyond. Someone so gone they forgot I exist. He hasn’t thought about me in days, maybe months. Jumped into another life with the role of me recast but forgot to close the curtain on our life first. A cruel ending for you, he said. Sorry. Now a phrase I wrote keeps haunting me: All my homes are lost.

4. Rain last night. Misplaced my boots. Someone sent an email meant for a person who shares my name. I can’t stop thinking about the day I meant to call you but got busy and forgot. I planted peas but didn’t stake them. Their delicate tendrils crawl on dirt, desperate for each other. Sometimes I miss you so much my lungs stop working until that invisible force takes over and I gasp. So dramatic and ridiculous. Did you see? We forget it’s okay to love.

5. When I reach the beyond, can I return to haunt people I dislike? Or do the passed lose their rancor? I wonder if all this was worth it. If memory’s enough.


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