Parable of the Dead

& I’ve burned through three fathers

& holes in the blanket of a life

& I burned also through my only mother

& some fabrics are just made that way

& lace is fabric made mostly of holes gathered together with thread

& holes picked out in white like snow in a thicket

& who or what will keep me warm

& like a lake framed in thickening ice

& a whole forest is lace reversed

& everyone who ever loved me has died

& that is almost true now will be true later

& the word lace is from the Latin meaning ensnare

& also meaning noose

& the ocean makes lace of water and sand

& the city is a concrete blanket laced with glass and danger

& the stars are holes in the lacewinged dark

& we plant the dead like seeds we forget to tend

& grow gardens of holes

& grow lives made mostly of holes

& all the beautiful the delicate empty spaces


Leslie Harrison’s second book, The Book of Endings (Akron, 2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her first book, Displacement (Mariner 2009) won the Bakeless Prize in poetry. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kenyon Review, New England Review, West Branch and elsewhere. She lives and writes in Baltimore.