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Rest in Warning

In the dark before morning lay the living in their beds

and lay we the dead in ours. Each earth-lidded terminus

not a chamber of rest, but a listening ear to the past.

The dead are with you, difficult as this is to believe.

We know how quickly you turn from mourning

back to the distractions you stretch from hour to hour.

You buy green mangoes from the street vendor

and pink tulips from the corner bodega. Finally alone

in your apartment, the bolt slid against strangers

you collapse in exhaustion. No news, you vow

no devices all the long weekend. The cat nuzzles

your tulips and pushes the vase off the kitchen table.

You can’t get her off the furniture. Here in the yard

at the edge of the Old Town, there’s no keeping

the living out. You are our news, constant and uninvited

opening the iron gate to stroll among our rows.

You place pebbles atop granite markers, whisper our names

as though we can no longer speak. We speak

in the dark before morning when the hooligans come

tagging hate and toppling headstones. They give us voice.

Each thud’s a certain warning that the past is never gone.

As long as the beaver slaps her tail on the pond’s surface

as long as the rabbit stomps his hind leg, this sound

the only sound we make, is our sound of warning.

Leslie McGrath

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