The Book of the Dead Man (#61)

by Marvin Bell

1. About the Dead Man and the Late Conjunctions of Fall

The dead man heard a clucking in the trees at maple-sugaring time.
Today he feels a fibrillation in the curling leaves of autumn.
The near-frost lengthens his line of sight, bringing down the moon,
while among the spheroid melodies of harvesting, fate
detaches the prospects.
The dead man fosters the free flying of the leaves.
He encourages deciduous trees to be done with dying.
There where the Anglo-Saxon and the Latinate meet anew, the dead
man bespeaks the continental drift.
There where body and soul conjoin, the dead man rejoins the
indivisible nation.
Who but the dead man can fashion a broom from a branch and
discern the seasons from wisps of sugar and pollen?
The dead man sandpapers flakes and spinters from the chair where
the one oblivious to time sits reading beneath burnt foliage.
He calls to the wild turkey in its infancy to stay still in the brush.
The dead man cedes supremacy neither to the body nor the soul,
neither does he stay in one place like a day on the calendar.
The dead man feels like the tree which was tapped for syrup, al in
good time.

2. More About the Dead Man and the Late Conjunctions of Fall

The dead man readies himself for the ice skaters whirling overhead,
their blades crying wish and wish.
Which will crack in the brittle days to come, the dead man's ring or
the dead man's ring finger?
The dead man does not hasten, nor does he pitch his tent.
The dead man, like others, shall be departing and returning, for
such is the grandiloquence of memory in the junctures of
The dead man attaches an epistle to a leaf, he discloses his
whereabouts to the harvest moon, he cranks forth leaflet
upon leaflet to satisfy the scene.
The dead man's dying leaves, burning, appear as a crimson wash in
the autumn dusk.
His is the midnight light of high proceedings beyond the horizon.
The dead man will not twitch lest he frighten the little twigs from
their exposed roosts.
When there is no holding on, no lettingg go, no firm grip, no
restoration, no hither and yon, no arboreal refuge, then okay
-say that the dead man in his vigor watches it all.
He holds his tongue lest he sound the alarm.
He hears the fallen extremities swept away by the wind and
The dead man has written an elegy for autumn and a postscript to
the Apocalypse.

Last updated November 30, 2022