The End

I believed death was a flat plain spectacular endlessly

Can you distort my voice when I say this?

My scared ghost peeling off me

Distortion, she says, as if she has just made it up

And then she is quoting a line from a poem

Or is it a whole poem, I wish I could remember

My voice opens and calls you in

I don’t know if you can hear me

I said, I carry inside me the trace of a threat that I cannot discharge

I said, I want to ask you things you can’t ask a person who doesn’t exist

She said, Why can’t you ask them

If we can’t have everything what is the closest amount to everything we can have?

She said, Why can’t you have everything

Well, you know, when you’re looking for a person, sometimes they appear

And a light goes on and off in the opposite window, twice

Yes, you say, that was a sign

Strange love for the living, strange love for the dead

Listen. I don’t know who you are but you remind me of —

I wish you would put some kind of distortion on my voice, I tell her

So people don’t know it’s me

They know what they know, she said

I told a story about my shame

It got cold when the air touched it

Then it got hot, throbbed, wept, attracted fragments with which it eventually glittered

Till I couldn’t stop looking at it

Exactly, she says

And then she is quoting a line from a poem, I don’t know which one

In my dream she reached out to touch me as if to say, It’s all right

How I began to believe in something

Are you there?

The wind called to the trees

And then it happened

And they said, How do you feel?

And I said, Like a fountain

Night falls from my neck like silver arrows

Very gently


This poem originally appeared in The Poetry Review. You can read the other poems in this exchange in the May 2017 issue.

“The End” taken from Stranger, Baby © Emily Berry and reprinted by permission of Faber & Faber.
Source: Poetry (May 2017)
More Poems by Emily Berry