To call them ghosts or the resurrected, 
those summoned at once by new life? I am
nose-to-nose with them in an infant’s face.

With fitting epic peril you were plucked–
our golden bough, our shade, our dark oarsman,
our own dear lane to the land of the dead.

It’s the nose– neither your mother’s nor mine, 
but family property, no question;
held in trust, hidden in a code of bones.

And we will never know the forgotten
peasants in your blood who’d call you the spit
of some proud son, maiden aunt, or black sheep,

and might, in some vision up the river,
run cold at you, as if they’d seen a ghost.


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