Wesley Sims

Corralling the Dead

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

I recall as a child
the family cemetery beside
the little wooden church,
bordered by a metal fence,
strong posts and sturdy iron gate
as though to corral dead citizens
like horses lest they wander off
when nobody watched the herd.
The fence meandered along the road,
looped down by woods’ edge
and back around by the church.
Was it meant to keep out the living
or hold in the dead?

Older and wiser I learned
it could not do either.
We went in to visit family plots
as necessary, to clean or decorate
graves or just to refresh our minds
with facts—when did great-grandpa
die? How old was uncle John?
What was my infant nephew’s name?
Cloistered, bloodless bones couldn’t
rise and walk. Spirits of the dead
promptly soared heavenward.
But memory-ghosts of many I knew
drifted out and around their stones.
Some danced through the webbed
wall of wire whenever
I strolled nearby with eyes to see.

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About the Author

Wesley Sims has published three chapbooks of poetry: When Night Comes (Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky, 2013); Taste of Change (Iris Press, Oak Ridge, TN, 2019); and A Pocketful of Little Poems (Amazon, 2020). His work has appeared in Artemis Journal, Bewildering Stories, Connecticut Review, G.W. Review, Liquid Imagination, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Plum Tree Tavern, Novelty Magazine, Poem, Poetry Quarterly, Time of Singing, The South Carolina Review, and others. He lost hearing completely in one ear and has severe hearing loss in the other.