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By Phillis Levin

That the dead are real to us

Cannot be denied,

That the living are more real


When they are dead

Terrifies, that the dead can rise

As the living do is possible


Is possible to surmise,

But all the stars cannot come near

All we meet in an eye.


Flee from me, fear, as soot

Flies in a breeze, do not burn

Or settle in my sight,


I’ve tasted you long enough,

Let me savor

Something otherwise.


Who wakes beside me now

Suits my soul, so I turn to words

Only to say he changes


Into his robe, rustles a page,

He raises the lid of the piano

To release what’s born in its cage.


If   words come back

To say they compromise

Or swear again they have died,


There’s no news in that, I reply,

But a music without notes

These notes comprise, still


As spring beneath us lies,

Already something otherwise.


Source: Poetry (July 2013)

Poet Bio

Phillis Levin was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, and educated at Sarah Lawrence College and The Johns Hopkins University.  She is currently a professor of English and the Poet-in-Residence at Hofstra University.

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