Poetry / Poets

Naming the Dead by Kristin Roedell

Between Lake Louise and the Highway

there is an envelope of green

quiet . When a hawk

fills the air with sound,


it’s soon swallowed

by a blue spoon of sky.

In the distance lights draw faint

tidal traffic like impossibly brief moons.


Fence posts marked with names of dead dogs

edge the old mental hospital cemetery

with its trenches; patients 1-3000

lie in mass graves. All the earth

is full of bones;


roots like webs draw the named

and unnamed together.

I walk with my collie, head down,

and imagine people and dogs like lovers

finding each other below

the still ground.


Beneath the brambles my dog digs a hole;

in it she hears the dry crack of vertebrae

made straight, and the creaking

of old joints unfolding.


The dead are moving.

Hands, paws, shoulders, tails

are creeping forward,

making egg- shaped hollows

in the soil. The name of every

lost patient is in the mouth

of a dog.


They will find each other,

curling round in paired cocoons.

When their bones are unearthed,


will heal the three thousand.


3 thoughts on “Naming the Dead by Kristin Roedell

  1. Kristin Roedell graduated from Whitman College (B.A. English 1984) and the University of Washington Law School (J.D. 1987). Her poetry has been published in over fifty journals and books including Switched on Gutenberg, Ginosko, JAMA, Damselflypress, Frost Writing, Tacoma City Arts, and Voice Catcher Anthology. She is the author of three chapbooks: Seeing in the Dark (2009, Tomato Can Press), Girls with Gardenias (2012, Flutter Press), and Night Circus (2013, Legal Studies Forum) She has been nominated for Best of the Web and the Pushcart Prize. Her website is located at http://cicadas-sing.ucoz.com/

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