To be the only woman alive in a vast hive of death
Is a strange predicament, granted! Innumerable zombies
With glazed eyes shuffle around at their diurnal tasks,
Keep the machines whirring, drudge idly in stores and bars,
Bear still-born zombie children, pack them off to school
For education in science and the dead languages,
Divert themselves with moribund travesties of living,
Lay mountainous bets on horses never seen to run,
Speed along highways in conveyor-belt automobiles
But, significantly enough, often dare overshoot
The traffic signals and boing! destroy themselves again,
Earning expensive funerals. (These, if at last they emerge
From the select green cemetery plots awarded them
On their twenty-first death-days by sombre uncles and aunts,
Will become zombies of the second degree, reverenced
Nationwide in church or synagogue.)
Let none of this daunt you, child! Accept it as your fate
To live, to love, knowingly to cause true miracles,
Nor ever to find your body possessed by a cold corpse.
For one day, as you choose an unfamiliar side-street
Keeping both eyes open, alert, not apprehensive,
You shall suddenly (this is a promise) come to a brief halt:
For striding towards you on the same pavement will appear
A young man with the halo of life around his head,
Will catch you reassuringly by both hands, asserverating
In phrases utterly unintelligible to a zombie
That all is well: you are neither diseased, deranged, nor mistaken--
But merely undead. He will name others like you, no less alive:
Two girls and a man, all money-less immigrants arrived
Lately at a new necropolitan conurbation
'Come with me, girl, and join them! The dead, you will observe,
Can exercise no direct sanctions against the living
And therefore doggedly try to omit them from all the records.
Still, they cannot avoid a certain morbid fascination
With what they call our genius. They will venture questions
But never wait for an answer--being doubtless afraid
That it will make their ears burn, or their eyes prick with tears--
Nor can they countermand what orders we may issue.'

Nod your assent, go with him, do not even return to pack!
When five live people room together, each rates as a million--
But encourage the zombies to serve you, the honest creatures,
For though one cannot ameliorate their way of death
By telling them true stories or singing them real songs,
The will feel obscurely honoured by your warm presence.

AuthorBrennen Reece