That day we’d only just begun
to build our own city on a slab
with clay, toothpicks, cardboard, screws.
I pressed with my hands a highway
that passed it by, named it with a number
everyone in my family had lived to.
It was my ode to the original makers
of all we had. I slept under
the table and dreamed it came to life.
Waking, I told my story, how the clay
people had no mouths, or eyes, were left
as I had left them. Had followed me around
the conveniences I made them and asked
me where they came from. What could I tell
them of the tools I’d found in the kitchen,
the basement? On sale at the five and dime?
Instead, I built them a place to gather,
wrote out their mythology for my teacher.
She said you can’t just make a god. This is
the social sciences. I put a cross on the roof
and passed. Three days later my little city
was stepped on. The burial was simple: one
trip to the school trash and that senseless
god was dead. The peoples’ stories mine
to claim and to tell again and again.
Loving the dead is what we are here for
The dead can live. The living can be dead.
We will bury all of them—our leaders,
our bards and buskers, our friends, our
unmet near ancestors, our own parents.
Love has nothing to do with this. Above
the window sill a line of red ants makes its way
somewhere–towards the leftover cheese plate,
across the folds of your trousers, into your ear.
They are driven by the scent of death.
My mother taught me this, to remove
the tiny corpse from the house. The dead
are a road map. They leave behind the lure
of their histories, your thoughtless violence.
Still, we try to shake the sensation
the sense of something moving over us.
Rebecca Morgan Frank is the author of The Spokes of Venus (Carnegie Mellon 2016); Little Murders Everywhere (Salmon 2012); and Sometimes We're All Living in a Foreign Country, forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon in October 2017. Her poems have appeared such places as Ploughshares, Harvard Review, New England Review, and Guernica. Frank is the co-founder and editor of the online literary magazine Memorious, and is the Jacob Ziskind Poet in Residence at Brandeis University.