April 6, 2022
In dream, I am extracting bodies
from the rubble of bombed buildings.
There are many of us under this
granite sky and charred chunks of concrete.
Here and there, torn lace curtains,
broken teacups, an odd shoe. No one
speaks. We find a body and drag
or carry it to the middle of what
was a street. Bodies lined up.
Others check their pockets for IDs,
photograph them if they have
facial features someone may recognize,
then bag them in plastic so black
light could not shine on the remains
for a thousand years. No one speaks.
After a few days, no one cries,
no one feels. We are as numb as a tree
as we bend and lift and grunt.
In each heart, a hope that there
will be a body, no matter how broken,
that breathes. When another signals me,
I go to help him drag one more body
and he points to its face. I look
at it, then at him standing like a tree
with drooping limbs. There, on the
ground, is a body with my face.
Gary Metras is the author of eight books of poetry and thirteen chapbooks. His new book is Vanishing Points (Dos Madres Press, 2021). His poems have appeared in such journals as America, The Common, One Art, Poetry, Poetry East, and Poetry Salzburg Review. A retired educator, he fly fishes his home waters in western Massachusetts as often as possible.