The Dead [poem] by Leila Ortiz

Amelia’s hair of snow
is pressed
away as if to voice
an empty space or listen
to the grief of music
as we drink,

Can we really drink
away pain, snow
ourselves in with music
playing? We press
close to listen
to her lost voice.

How her voice
still drinks
in laughter. We listen
closely. Snow
drifts press
like music.

What does music’s
hoarse voice
really do but depress
us, drink
us in like snow

We can’t help but listen
to the music
of our dead, its snowy
cadence, a young voice
death like pressed

leaves. The pressure
of bone and gristle. Listen.
Amber-toned drinks
clink to make music,
Amelia’s voice
and the memory of snow—

the memory of snow pressed
against my window: A voice I listen
for in music and drink.


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem refers to James Joyce’s short story “The Dead.”]

Image by Stuart Webster

 Leila Ortiz is a poet and social worker from Park Slope, Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in The Ledge, Stone Canoe, and No, Dear Magazine. She is an MFA candidate at the Queens College Creative Writing and Literary Translation program, graduating in May 2015.