The Visitors

by Kelly Cherry

The light was off, the room black-dark.

In black-dark, the bedroom filled

with the shapes and selves of those I’d known

when they were living. Slowly they filed


past me—mother, father, brother

and friends, the friends of a lifetime

and others I’d known for the length of a reading

or conference or academic term.


So many gone. They pressed so close

to the bed I thought I might be crushed.

I switched the night lamp on: the room,

as empty as air, was bright and hushed.