Their Names by Miz Viv

by Miz Viv, copyright 2008

Their names are pillows
upon which many have laid
their weary heads

Beautiful names sewn to rough beds,
the soft flesh of dreams.

Opal Mills. Denise Darcel.
Mary Meehan. Colleen was drowned
on Christmas Eve, 1982.
The river filled with the eyelids of roses.

And how your halcyon fingers
caress the fancy coffin slip of a
woman who once was your

sister, daughter, mother, niece.
Held her down until she dissolved
into a porcelain beauty so astounding,
black birds held prayer vigils
on the riverbank for twenty-six years.

I had a name once. It’s eyes the windows of a ruined house.
It floated inside an apothecary glass I kept on the sill,
as if a childhood dream had found an empty
theater in which to mount a small production
of its hopes.

Some names are widow’s veils,
dark mesh through which one is never seen
yet with room enough to breathe the vitals:
dates of birth
dates of death
how much you weighed
what you were worth.

Kimi-Kai Pitsor, 16 years old. Tammie Liles,
Patricia Osborn, Kelli McGinness. Remains not found.
What remained was lost forever.

The poisoned apple. Ravens and rope,
barbed wire in the field. Tina Thompson.
Unnamed partitas in the branches of their severed souls.
Alma Ann Smith.

I cannot tell you the name of the graveyard.
I have been entrusted to keep it secret.
Only myself and my sisters know.

I can only say it flows like rivers inside my walls at night.
While rain drops like bullets outside my door.
I can only speak of what remains.

Their names.
They gather, gather, gather, assemble beneath
the shimmer of chandelier music.

I speak their names now to forever hold my peace.
Carol Christiansen. Martina Authorlee. Wendy Coffield.
Delores Williams. Terry Milligan. Linda Rule. Shawnda Summers.
I speak their names now to forever hold my peace.

This is for the river.