for the dead


If I Speak for the Dead I Must Leave
Nick Flynn

You opened my mouth
& filled it

with stones, for days
then weeks then

years, we swam until we
couldn’t, like

horses, our bodies,
little noises—

now this now this—

until it didn’t make any
sense . . . . Did we really

believe that

if we could just return to
the source & fully

we might then be able
to sink back into it? I

woke up in a boat once I

remember, I opened my mouth
& then, little snake, you

were gone. I didn’t know
you might not

come back. Once I

could say I’d never kissed

who is now dead, once

that was true, as if
my lips were a cure, as if death

wasn’t the only reason we
got into that boat. It

held us for as long as
it did, that’s all we can say,

until it didn’t.

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

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