What the Dead Dream

by Beth Bachmann

Hey gravedigger, bonepicker, kneller of bells
biting your nails won’t keep us from reading your lips.

What we need here is not the rock on your finger
bright enough to spade a heart, rip open a glass eye.

We don’t need your claw-footed spittoon
or your rendition of muttering waters,

a slow dance, a bouquet tossed
in the churchyard. Lover, just give me

a pocketful of stones to skip across the River,
a hipflask of Lethe.

Beth Bachmann’s poems are forthcoming in The Southern Review, The Antioch Review,and Image. She teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt University.