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The Dead

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Our business is with fruit and leaf and bloom;   
though they speak with more than just the season's tongue—   
the colours that they blaze from the dark loam   
all have something of the jealous tang   
   
of the dead about them. What do we know of their part   
in this, those secret brothers of the harrow,   
invigorators of the soil—oiling the dirt   
so liberally with their essence, their black marrow?   
   
But here's the question. Are the flower and fruit   
held out to us in love, or merely thrust   
up at us, their masters, like a fist?   
   
Or are they the lords, asleep amongst the roots,   
granting to us in their great largesse   
this hybrid thing—part brute force, part mute kiss?

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Dead

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