The Saturday Poem: Kingdom of the Dead

A poem by Greg Delanty


“Where does all the dust come from?” my mother
would say, sweeping the house away,
vacuuming the vacuum, dusting the duster.

War was declared on the dust day-
in, dust-out. Back then it was a mystery.
She would frantically polish a sun ray,

highlighting undercover motes in our dust-free
home; banning all books, condemned dust-gatherers.
We had no notion it was our own skin mostly

and that of Catherine, John Bray, our grandmothers,
Liam Cunningham, our dog, the meter reader, Pierre,
Moses the milkman, my goldfish, the grandfathers

I never met. The dead drift in the universe of air;
the living and dead settle together everywhere.

Greg Delanty’s collections include Collected Poems 1986-2006 and The Greek Anthology Book XVII (both Carcanet)