Michael Collier

Bardo

                               …dark wide realm where we walk
                                with everyone.

                                                             —Thom Gunn

 

Dangerously frail is what his hand was like
when he showed up at our house,
three or four days after his death
and stood at the foot of our bed.

 

Though we had expected him to appear
in some form, it was odd, the clarity
and precise decrepitude of his condition,
and how his hand, frail as it was,

 

lifted me from behind my head, up from the pillow,
so that no longer could I claim it was a dream,
nor deny that what your father wanted,
even with you sleeping next to me,

 

was to kiss me on the lips.
There was no refusing his anointing me
with what I was meant to bear of him
from where he was, present in the world,

 

a document loose from the archives
of form—not spectral, not corporeal—
in transit, though not between lives or bodies:
those lips on mine, then mine on yours.


Michael Collier
“Bardo” is from Dark Wild Realm (Houghton Mifflin, 2006).