(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by German artist Heiko Müller‘s piece, Together Alone.



She was already dead to this world

When they shook her hand

A corpse walking proudly

Amongst the living


Well, the ones who said they were alive.


Wind blew through her nose

Swirled through her skull

And came out through her



It sounded like words but

It was really sighs

And attempts to change the currents

And their lies


They hid in her hair

Because she had courage and

They had none

The living with no blood


The living with no cause

To walk about but

The gossip in their

Bones and in their awareness of


(Well, it’s hard to define the direction of their vacuous gaze

No compass exists that is


Of letters to follow.)


A woman with the audacity

To hold her head high

Not to lie

To swallow her life whole


Live her life fully

Without regurgitating

The contents of her soul

Back into the holes in their ears


They sat at her feet

Followed her through the street

And wandered closely

Waiting for her to speak


She did not speak

She lived instead

She breathed and

Told what she saw honestly


Like Gremlins before

The water fell

Furry and obedient

Holding evil in their shells


Like a band of traveling

Carnies stuck to the hem of her dress

They worshipped her

A golden calf of their making


We do not usually comprehend the idols we amass.


It is hard to say how long

She would walk

Or to count the dust that

Gathered in the ruffles of her gown


But the miles

The roads

The paths

The ways were exactly as long as


Your imagination can travel.


The small ones

Who fed on her strength

Like barnacles leeching whales

Wanted to emulate but fell more like scales


They moved with consensus

And swayed with

The rhythms of the crowd and with

Fallen leaves and with ashes and with dead mosquitos


They were more alive

According to the medical instruments

Of the time

But they were dead upon birth


If living be seeing and death be only to exist.


Together alone they traveled

A pack of wild animals in finest attire

Finding direction in the

Sound that whistled

Through her teeth


But I hope you won’t judge them


We all get to choose who we follow.



copyright Jill Szoo Wilson