Victoria, British Columbia

ancestors

for what, they must wonder, looking down from
altars and on high. you can picture them
at the tops of trees, leaves shifting a rustle
of whispers: can you imagine?

even so, you smudge your sacred lips
with coffee from starbucks, redden mouths for the scented grace
of duty. speak the words from beginning to end
the amen signifying what you haven’t heard

and burn incense to scent their eternities
with sneezes of ylang ylang, patchouli, jasmine
everblooming.
imagine them like that, worshipped in a match strike
and a pot of perfume. entire lives been and gone,
mourners promising never –

yet red embers burn. smoke reaches skyward.
you do not know their names.

you don’t know
they want to breathe
oatmeal and the rich green of horse manure, the
dark loam of bark and earth, fresh bread on a hearth.

Alisa Gordaneer is a poet and editor in Victoria, BC. Visit her website at www.alisagordaneer.com

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