John Grey

When Two Out of Five Won’t Go

Emma remembers the death of two children,
the three living ones not so much.
Hardly grew a hair on its head, one of them.
And the other fell under a car.
And now what are the other three doing?
Sure they write, sure they call,
sure they visit over the holidays.
But they left home of their own free will.
Didn’t die ’cause of God’s.
The living ones can carry on a conversation.
And Emma talks back though she prefers
a more one-sided tete-a-tete.
Their faces grow older and more unrecognizable.
But a photograph gets younger by the day.
Emma hears children’s voices in the wind.
She sees their silhouettes in the vaporous light of dusk.
She even rocks their tiny bodies
in the pillow squeeze of fitful sleep.
The survivors take their feelings with them.
Only the dead know how to love.
And what do the living do but pack up
and go off to their homes in other cities.
She’s glad they’re gone.
Now she can have company.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter

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