Skeleton Key

Graveyards are for wandering,
not stumbling, but the faces I wandered by
had not opened their throats for a century
or more, lips sealed, breathing softly.

The dead lay pillowed and blanketed
in beds of green between high rails of stone,
as if at night they might arise, confused,
to follow some pale light between the trees.

When I knocked on the stout church door,
expecting nothing more than echoes,
a leaded window flung wide above,
a voice leaned out, called “Catch!”

and dropped a skeleton key
into my hand. I bounded up
the staircase to the belfry,
six pealers waiting with their ropes.

Then bells swung high to split the azure air,
clappers rang like iron tongues and ropes
dropped down from God’s own hand
to lift each foot up on its toes.

The dead awoke, rolled to their sides —
the stone rails held as I walked through.
Buoyed by the bells and far from home,
beginning life, I made myself invisible.

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