How many times…

How many times do I talk with my dead?
And their hands are rough and wrinkled, and I ask them
things and their faces are a memory of sorrows, and the night
threatens us in its tempestuous fall, but I talk with
my dead which perhaps are yours, and I cover them, saturate
them with my silent sorrow and with my tear-drenched eyes.
I always bid farewell to that body,
to those eyes that seem like a river
of silence.
And this is how I learn to tell them things,
to promise them a blossoming, flowery garden,
a history, a beginning, a promise,
and it is so incredible how I love this dead one, who is not mine,
who is not a cadaver either, but a waterfall, a dialogue,
a shore to be crossed.

“How many times…” from An Absence of Shadows by Majorie Agosín. Copyright © 1998 by Marjorie Agosín. Published by White Pine Press. Used with permission from the poet. Translated by Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman.

This poem was originally read in the On Being episode “Laying the Dead to Rest.”