The Mon­treal Book of the Dead

Geist - - Findings - MARY DI MICHELE

From Bi­cy­cle Thieves. Pub­lished by ECW Press in 2017. Mary di Michele is the au­thor of twelve books and has won numer­ous awards, in­clud­ing the Con­fed­er­a­tion Po­ets Prize and the Mala­hat Re­view’s Long Poem Prize. She lives in Mon­treal.

This morn­ing I saw my fa­ther driv­ing a red Toy­ota wagon with Que­bec plates, je me sou­viens, turn­ing the cor­ner at Grand, head­ing

west. He didn’t see me, and I was sur­prised to see him in the city with­out call­ing on me even though, for the last three years, he has been

dead. It cer­tainly looked like him, the chis­elled jaw, the Gre­cian for­mula hair, yes, my fa­ther maybe twenty years ago, still in his prime, still

him­self, or look­ing like him­self. All the im­mor­tal­ity the Earth can of­fer may be the kind we had be­fore

we were even born, the liv­ing we did then, we will con­tinue to do through genes we also share with Ne­an­derthals.

My fa­ther drives on not know­ing me.

The dead are not dead, per­haps the dead are not even trans­formed. They are ev­ery­where, just not talk­ing to us.

Don’t try lis­ten­ing for them in fam­ily pho­tos, if they are for­ever, they are for­ever

dumb with for­got­ten con­ver­sa­tions when ev­ery day is that Au­gust day in 1992. My fa­ther in his white-striped polo shirt,

high in the boughs of a fig tree, gath­er­ing fruit for my greed. I still see him in many places, and in my hands, my Ro­man nose, and chis­elled jaw.

As a pear re­peats it­self, each time a lit­tle al­tered, On ev­ery branch of a tree.1 Our dead have re­tired and moved off is­land.

They are not gone, they have not passed on, they are in­com­mu­ni­cado.

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