Among the Other Dead: poems by Deborah Burnham. Selected by Marjorie Maddox as Number 17 in our Keystone Chapbook Series, celebrating the work of Pennsylvania-connected poets. This is the second of Deb’s chapbooks in the Keystone Series, and we’re very proud to bring out her new work.
Publication: February 28, 2019 [100 copies]
image by Paul Bilger: http://www.chronophotic.weebly.com.
Deborah Burnham has spent all of her adult life in Philadelphia, happily. She teaches and advises students at the University of Pennsylvania’s English department, and leads therapeutic writing groups for cancer survivors at the Abramson Cancer Center. For about thirty years, she taught poetry at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts. Her most recent book, Tart Honey, traces a long marriage through distances and returns. Her chapbook, Still, was published in the Keystone Chapbook Series in 2008. The poems in Among the Other Dead will form the center of a book of elegies.
One night, you dropped your keys in two feet of snow,
stripped your glove and sleeves, and, bare-armed, dug
until you found them, dried them on your shirt
then drove home, your arm soaked, shivering and proud.
Your long death spreads itself before me: a field
of snow broken only by the ragged holes my
forgetful hands have punched there, scrabbling for a shard
of stone, the hard cold remnants of what you said or sang.
Remembering you is harder now. I want to bring back
your voice, its sweet stroke across my name,
your square fingers teaching knives what they can do,
slivered onions hanging like bracelets on the blade.
Once you forgot to rinse the knife. The apple you cut
for me tasted of onion, of raw wood, its sweetness gone.
Why can I recall nothing but your gray coat at the corner,
turning away from me?
Why can I bring back nothing but the half-print of your boot
in hard snow that melts by noon?
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