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I don’t like writing about the dead,
conjuring them in language
that some of them
never would have used—
pushing them onstage,
saying, “Go. It doesn’t have to be the truth.”
Something’s varnished about it,
all klieg lights and rouge,
all glistery shadows.
Yet, what else is there to do?
Shouldn’t you, Reader,
be led to see these glossy, passionate,
who once plowed a field in the teeth of a tornado,
waltzed with a wooden leg,
sashayed an armadillo on a leash?
Perhaps not. Perhaps you’ve already left the page,
dealing with your own ghosts,
throwing them over your shoulder like salt:
a cousin, a brother missing in action
who smoked every day a pack of Camels
and had a way with mules.
Copyright 2016 Jo McDougall. From The Undiscovered Room (Tavern Books). Reprinted by permission of the author.