“Dead Men” by Bernadette Geyer

Bernadette Geyer


My father took the shortcut to cousin Ray’s funeral,
up the steep road to Port Vue past houses, staggered
like thumbtacks between the road and hillside.

Retaining walls prevented the front yards from spilling
out into the street during storms.

My father jerked his thumb, motioning out the window,
See that wall? Those square ends sticking out between
the long wooden beams there?

I looked, saw a Morse code of wooden dots and dashes
holding back the earth.

Those are dead men, he said. The builders lay them
perpendicular to the others, bury them like that
to stabilize the wall.

I responded with a distracted Oh, thinking
about dead men and stability, learning names for things
we don’t usually notice, let alone understand.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003


Bernadette Geyer: “My affinity for writing began on the school playground when I was eleven years old. I wrote Nancy Drew-type mysteries for my classmates, who gathered around and snatched sheets away from me as soon as I was finished writing them. Being able to discover new connections between myself and the world around me is what keeps me writing.”

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