As if the Dead Had Eyes by Pat Anthony

As If the Dead Had Eyes

As if the Dead Had Eyes

by Pat Anthony

Mother dressed to the nines like Sunday church
to go to the cemetery come Decoration Day
loaded galvanized buckets, the battered corn kettle
full of fading iris, half-blown peonies

but as I veered over the years from so much
I’d needed to leave behind, I’d kept away believing
spirits roamed freer without being tethered to
wilting flowers, my skeptical presence

until another brother passed on and I wanted
to say Hey, my going more spur of the moment
than an homage to those childhood pilgrimages
heading out before I could change my mind or faded jeans

history fighting a bitter north wind, bare feet cold
in my second-hand trainers making me remember
our hand-me-downs, the three of us grubby musketeers
taking on all comers so that bolstered by memories

I pulled into the cemetery to wade water that swirled
through weedy grass to place red and white spider mums
above my last brother’s remains resting in the void
moving on then after a quick salute to another city where

more water would lap my shoes and I could hear
Daddy saying with a grin how he’d always loved the river
headstone sloshing like his beloved aluminum boat
rising eddies rocking the coffee can I tried to sink

into mud in front of my middle brother’s wedge stone
dates blurring as Daddy continues to tell me how
he’d finally saved enough to replace the white metal square
with my brother’s name fading beneath celluloid like some rose

marker in the city park, my mind wandering the while as
I split the last bouquet to plunge daisies and a red rose
into stone vases flanking my parents’ monument
careful to balance blooms against reality the way

they never could in real life, imagine wraiths pulling petals
tonight in that old childhood game to which I already know
the answers, some flawed symmetry burning my fingers
as I shift one final spray in case the dead have eyes.


Pat Anthony writes the backroads as she explores characters, relationships, and herself while living with bipolar disorder. With an MA in Humanities, she poems daily, edits furiously, and scrabbles for honesty no matter the cost. Work published or forthcoming in multiple journals, including The Avocet, The Awakenings, Crosswinds, Transcendent Zero, and Triggerfish among others. Recent chapbooks include Middlecreek: Currents and Undercurrents, Orchard Street Press and Between Two Cities on a Greyhound Bus, Cholla Needles Press.

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