When you Dream of the Dead's image
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When you Dream of the Dead

ELEANOR HOOKERELEANOR HOOKER June 16, 2020
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They always wear perfect versions 

of their younger selves. 

My grandparents call out, oh, here she is at last. 


The table is set for a banquet — this is not a wake.

Dad is by the hearth, encouraging ash back to life. 


I’ve never lived in a house that held its heat

I tell him, unable to say I miss you

in case he recollects his death.

He’s distracted, can you hear that?

he asks. Somewhere in the house

a child is crying. Find her, ’he says. 

Take her with you when it’s time.


When the door opens, he looks expectant. 

I see a shadow of the presence that’s followed me here, 

that follows me everywhere. Somewhere a requiem plays 

and everyone in the room plays dead. 


I will not look.


~


The sea is the colour of the sea

I choose — aquamarine and teal.

My boat runs in on a flood tide,

is beached at the prairie’s edge,

the closest I’ll get to home.


Here grasslands smell of ochre 

and ash, of scorched heartlands. 

The sun sweats yellow in a blue, blue sky. 


I make my way to the house — 

a prank house cobbled together 

with every house I’ve ever called home. 

The door is an ancient wood, 

each tree a memory, each leaf a hook.

The walls are lined with conch-shells, 

through which the wind blows

my lonely childhood song.


In the hall I hear crying —

so close, it could be coming from me. 


I climb the stairs, stop outside the Room of Rain. 

Rust flowers the lock. I hear rain falling inside

but I won’t go in; this is where the light died — 

hung from a bouquet of stars.

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