• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Look at me. I’m standing on a deck

in the middle of Oregon. There are

people inside the house. It’s not my

house, you don’t know them.

They’re drinking and singing

and playing guitars. You love

this song. Remember? “Ophelia.”

Boards on the windows, mail

by the door. I’m whispering

so they won’t think I’m crazy.

They don’t know me that well.

Where are you now? I feel stupid.

I’m talking to trees, to leaves

swarming on the black air, stars

blinking in and out of heart-

shaped shadows, to the moon, half-

lit and barren, stuck like an ax

between the branches. What are you

now? Air? Mist? Dust? Light?

What? Give me something. I have

to know where to send my voice.

A direction. An object. My love, it needs

a place to rest. Say anything. I’m listening.

I’m ready to believe. Even lies, I don’t care.

Say, burning bush. Say, stone. They’ve

stopped singing now and I really should go.

So tell me, quickly. It’s April. I’m

on Spring Street. That’s my gray car

in the driveway. They’re laughing

and dancing. Someone’s bound

to show up soon. I’m waving.

Give me a sign if you can see me.

I’m the only one here on my knees.

Dorianne Laux, a greatly admired American poet, is Poet in Residence at North Carolina State University and also teaches for the Pacific University Low Residency MFA Program in Oregon. “Trying to Raise the Dead” is from her collection
Smoke, published by BOA Editions, Ltd. ©, and is reprinted with permission. The author’s photo is by Jeanne C. Finley.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


calpoet Sept. 29, 2010 @ 2:26 p.m.

Lovely poem. For me it captures something of the paradox of the poet writing to a blank page. There she is, at a party, people around her, but she writes her deepest feelings into the surrounding natural world. Who's listening? Who reads poetry these days? The poet continues to write hoping that "Someone's bound/to show up soon." Dorianne Laux is one of our best.


nan shartel Oct. 5, 2010 @ 1:59 p.m.

i read poetry these days...and i write it

this a poignant poem of that internal turned external risk of calling out ones need to a different dimensional space

one that one is sure of but is as of yet unable to reach suscessfully

if there is a chance... it would happen in the wonder of a state like Oregon.... whose twilight lingers long enough to fulfill a saddened lovers need

wonderful poem..thx again Reader


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!