Descent to the Dead

A. F. Moritz

from The Art of Surgery (Vallum Chapbook Series, No.26)

In so far as I transform myself
into my song, I can live again
forever, although the song
will be dead as this body’s dead,
lying by itself in the dark, the shut
book, drying out. Yet the song can be resurrected
at any time by anyone—by you—
the body not. The song needs only someone,
not God. And God doesn’t need to resurrect
the song because he hears it
always, as we say: just as he doesn’t need
to resurrect our bodies. He knows
and loves them unchangingly; it seems
he raises them for us, who can’t.
Left to ourselves we would lie in filthy
silence and self-contempt. He appears
in you in the form of your will
to hear the dead song: your will mostly defeated
in wandering the buzzing maze
of every day. The song
needs only paltry you to live. lt wants
to catch the blood of your wandering
attention, drink it, give it
a body. It wants
just a moment, a moment of a repeated
descent to the dead
that your life can make,
which in so far as it descends
and listens

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A. F. Moritz is the author of more than 15 books of poetry; he has received the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Relit Award (for Night Street Repairs, named the best book of poetry published in Canada in 2005), an Ingram Merrill Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.




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Founded in 2000 and based in Montreal, Vallum magazine is published biannually. Vallum provides a forum for emerging artists to interact with more established figures while giving them exposure and the confidence to continue with their art. As one of Canada’s top poetry journals with an international focus, Vallum encourages dialogue between Quebec and the rest of Canada and allows Canadian artists to exchange ideas with acclaimed and emerging artists from the United States, Britain, Ireland, Australia, India and other countries around the world.

Vallum pushes boundaries and invites the exploration of different worlds and perspectives. In addition to poetry, Vallum also publishes essays, interviews, book reviews, and visual art.

Notable past contributors include P.K. Page, Paul Muldoon, Franz Wright, Charles Simic, Les Murray, Jan Zwicky, Stephen Dunn, Karen Solie, John Kinsella, Fanny Howe, George Elliott Clarke, Andrew Motion, Erin Mouré, Peter Redgrove, Nicole Brossard, and others.

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