Posted by: montclairlibrary | April 17, 2020

Poems-in-Place: “Repeat Performance” by Grace Marie Grafton

Repeat Performance
By Grace Marie Grafton

It isn’t a matter of starting on time, no apology needed.
Personal grief must be respected when exhuming a body,
careful handling of prevailing emotions as well as material
parts. The few hairs, the bony eminences, the area
around the eyes. Does any expression remain?
Eerie, how clothing can capture a sense of life.

Easy to understand why people like a cemetery, quiet life
still exists, grass, some trees, the bugs birds need,
the birds bugs need for transformation. One body
into another, maybe why a cemetery can materialize
its earnest peace. The visitors singing their silent arias.
The dead expecting to understand nothing of what remains.

I could argue with the gods, I could say, “Why remain
so unknown and cold? Are you cold? Do you live
in an amoeba or in the peacock’s tail? I need
to have more than a packet of seeds and a body
that continues to prove its reticence to materialize
perfection.” This brief, brief time, my tiny area.

Where blessings come from. The perfect apple paring, air
after the first fall rain, how we finally understand remainder
in long division. Years do divide into increments, life
during the eager stages when the corduroy shirt met the need
for personal expression. The mad dash when the body
drives crazily into the maelstrom of sex, to materialize

again, raucous dance against the only wall that matters.
Cemetery wall. We are driven by death, mocking area
of in-expertise. The popularity of homicide dramas remains
uncontested. A poet writes repeatedly about road kill, life-
blood smeared into macabre art on pavement canvas. We need
to carefully lift one tissue away from another, sniff the body’s

cessation, ask again, “Is this the way my own dear body
will cave in on itself?” Try to figure out what matters,
is it possible to call plaintively enough into the void – area
as closed off to us as the gods – “What part of you remains?
Can you whisper me one word? Maybe ‘love,’ maybe ‘life’,”
meaning of course, that life after death is all that we need.

Every pearl of matter, the atrocious armature on the alligator’s
body, the lively comb shaking on the stellar jay’s head,
the universal need to remain like a scent in the air.


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