On the day you died, I prayed before round
golden gods, made their bronze bell giant ring,
and when the log-like mallet struck its home,
I felt the way old metals sing–that tone
reached through my skin and wrapped around my bones.
That sound’s a phantom press when I’m alone.
I was several thousand miles away
when she called me to say you died that day.
It wasn’t the words I heard, it was how
I dropped down, knees to earth–this de-winged bird–
and how the lanterns stained us when it rained.
We and descendants of the Japanese
converged where folk musicians began to
sing with drums and flutes, centered on a stage.
Kimonoed men and women, graced by age,
gesturing with the gorgeous lift of cranes,
rotated in circles around the sound–
this Obon dance for family in the ground.
Given through this dance the chance
to cry with a hundred different eyes
for you, my friend, I danced there till the end.
Katy Santiff has written poetry in various forms all her life. She believes in densely-packed poems, preferring them to be mouthfuls when read aloud. A lifelong Marylander, she loves water-side living. She currently lives in Edgewater, Maryland with her wife. Her published poems can be found in Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine and Spillwords Press.