for Camille Thomas
We sat outside as the clocks ticked toward midnight
and darkness pressed down upon our grieving world
with soft palms. Which of these stars—I wondered—
are my mother, father, brother, and all the rest who
are gone, never to return. And then, a flock of wild
geese flew above our heads. We heard the beating
of their wings, their persistent honking—yet could
not see their feathered bodies hurtling over roofs
and steeples, the bare branches of a poplar. But we
saw meteors, one after the other, appear and vanish—
witnessed their silent falling. All day long, I listened
to Dance of the Blessed Spirits played by a cellist
to empty rooms. I want to hear it play again when
I am dying. May departing souls, traveling through
space like comets, remember how it felt to be alive—
how even birds, flying in the dark, cry out with joy.
Winner of the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry, including A Sun Inside My Chest (Press 53). Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, and many others.
Photo by Max Saeling.