Il dolce suono

Traci Brimhall

The ghosts of contraltos orbit the equator,

           blinking like satellites, every message the same.

Seek us. The dead are more real than the children

           making me paper crowns, who remember nothing

of the pillage, the burn, the fever, the benign power

           of health. I cut the blindfold from my daughter

to see if her pupils hold the forecast of whatever

          black light will come for her, but the spirit refuses

to pass itself off as an image. History is more real

           than the sticky peppermints placed in my palm

by a child who does not know I once owned this land

           and everyone on it. The future comes for me even

as I reenact the past with the ghosts in my attic.

           They aria, I applaud. They cadenza, they coloratura,

I adore. Breath escapes, then memory. Then God permits

            the dead to visit — Ah, quella voce — so she can

sing — Let us take refuge here, it is scattered with roses — to the child who

           remembers nothing, not even the love that made her.

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