I have lived in a land where the seals swim
like newborn babies in black skin, the green
hair of the rocks dance over their bodies
as they sing to me. For ten dollars a bag
I was paid to pick the locks from these stones,
dry their bodies in the sun, carry the kelp
back to the docks, have my skill weighed.
My great grandmother did the same
with the men who washed upon shore.
She placed pennies in their eyes
wrote their names on a lighthouse wall.
I have traced my own beneath the Richards
and the Johns, dragged their imagined bones to old men
who remember my father as a boy .
It is this weight that I hold now
even though I have grown and moved to a place
where there is no sea and the tall silver trees
hold it back. Yet, even here
there is the low cry of the dead
Copyright © 2003 T.E. Ballard