Dear Empire;






These are your ashes. We’ve carried them for years in baskets, urns, boxes, and lockets. A fine dust clouds our skies. A lock of your hair is hemmed by a selvedge. The cloth adorns an altar in your finest shrine.

Dear Empire, we are an obedient people. We are intimate beyond death, and anxious for your return. We’ve kept your letters close to our chests. Dear Empire, our arenas still follow your lead.

Come back from where you dwell. In the days you have left us, we’ve nothing to do but count the elements: it is not raining. It is raining. A garland of flowers dries on marble.


From Post Subject: A Fable by Oliver de la Paz, copyright © 2014 Oliver de la Paz. Reprinted by permission of The University of Akron Press. Unauthorized duplication not permitted.

Oliver de la Paz is the author of five collections of poetry: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, Requiem for the Orchard, Post Subject: A Fable, and The Boy in the Labyrinth. He also co-edited A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. A founding member, Oliver serves as the co-chair of the Kundiman advisory board. He has received grants from the NYFA, the Artist’s Trust, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and has been awarded two Pushcart Prizes. His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, Tin House, The Southern Review, and Poetry Northwest. He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at PLU. More from this author →