How we walk in the valley of death Life rising around us in shifting peaks, light stain Dogwood peppers the underworld, the undergrowth Generates scented flowers, tempting you closer to the dirt Watch raptors circle and spiral and spin down Toward the little bodies bleeding around you Decomposition is derived from making something Out of nothing you came, how you walk in the valley For departure is not under august circumstances Fictitious glory, and yet, springtime in the valley We cling to the flowers like bees And the ants and maggots follow their own sweet scent
In Praise of the Immortal Jellyfish
As a child I was told that the maraschino cherries set in gelatin never decomposed,
lived on like bright beacons in my core. I felt the hot red points move out
into my bones, brighter than my blood, filling me like a scarecrow made of the things around it
worth protecting. I imagined how the dead– my mother, my grandmother-
would leave only red dye-drenched matter, and when they cremated me my own ash
would turn red, hot with my hunger, my greediness immortal.
My body less enduring than this jellied creature that floats in the sea and turns death
into a regression as it begins again, remembering nothing.
Immortality is spreading through the oceans, leaving us ashore like beached whales,
lamenting how we could have been that blob– colorless, flavorless, but enduring.
Beginning again and again in the deep sea.
Oh bodies, where are you? I hear the flowers, the pines, the lizards mourn even in their silence.
We are silent too, even when we ask where are the bodies, where are the bodies in ash in sky, where
can we find comfort, and how? The leaves shake in shadow on the shades and you cannot leave the house, you cannot
leave the neighborhood, you cannot find the bodies, the bodies, where are the bodies? They say there are children there, being burned
alive [they say the old woman pushes them in the oven and burns them alive, they say] the armies are closing in and
all it takes is a match, the armies are closing in and [the mothers, the mothers, it’s always the mothers] [there is nothing left
for them to bury.] Bluebeard lifts his hatchet every time he comes back home from war. Scheherazade fashions a new story every time
her boss comes to her. We listen to the stories, ask where are the bodies where are the bodies? Everyone
knows that today, children were burned alive. The television screens are fired up behind the shades. Eyelids fall
because who tells the tales? Who listens? Who lights the match and watches the children burn? Today, children burn.
-- Rebecca Morgan Frank is the author of three collections of poems, including SometimesWe’re All Living in a Foreign Country (Carnegie Mellon 2017) and Little Murders Everywhere, a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Her poems have appeared such places at The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Guernica. She is co-founder and editor of the online literary magazine Memorious.org and the Jacob Ziskind Poet in Residence at Brandeis University.