Patricia Nelson


The Dead

The world they remember is mirror
or a weather where the odd shapes fall.
Where drops come louder, harder,
breaking earth with the color of stars.

What is lost accumulates as shadow
or a window, alive with shape and rain.
A white loaf made of waiting
and a dark that is small and crawls like ants.

The dead resound without a word.
Let them go around you as the music does,
toward the farther, stranger noises
bright as the curves of many horses.

Ask the dead the word for horse.
The word will be blue and grey,
wide and smooth, a mesa.
A soil that shakes.

Its gallop strikes the freshness
of this silence with a wild noise,
gusts of brown where colors cannot go,
and a different light as deep as sobbing.


Patricia Nelson is a former environmental attorney who has worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group was founded by Lawrence Hart in the 1930s and is now led by his son, John Hart.