To the insane asylum dead on Andrews Road, Port Alfred

Numbers, no names in this toothy field:
Stone incisors tilt drunkenly beneath a twelve o clock sky.

Your flaking bones and gaping mouths
lie forgotten in the press of earth,
lost lacework…

Did tender fingers once trace the shell of your ear,
some mouth kiss your warm cheek,
before grey walls and white doors shut out the light,
before your brain burst behind your bloodshot eyes?

Who never came to claim you?
And who clunked the gurney under the run of soulless lights,
Who signed the form, slotted you, filed you and forgot you?

Where do they lie?

But in the crush of years
all turn to dust,
cherished and uncherished.
So why do I ache to scratch away the earth,
find your milky bones,
tease tarsals out like little seeds,
cradle your skull,
give you back your name?

I tremble. A fragment stirs
and I breathe its evocation:
Names can bind and set you free…

Perhaps the mystic in me has not withered utterly;
Parchment dry,
but waiting for a little rain.

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