Like another recently published poem, ‘The Haunting’, Among the Dead is about ghosts you love, and the happiness a haunting can bring. Following a young man through his life with ghosts, he seeks to enter the kingdom of the dead to be with those he loves. It is, in a way, a queer love poem dedicated to loving many people, as well as a ghost poem.
The poem is full of folklore. The trooping dead who pass beneath his window were a folklore feature of medieval Europe — though this troop seems happier than the armies that walked the earth as part of their purgatorial suffering! Leopards, here referenced, are a symbol of Dionysus, who sometimes played a role as a lord of the Underworld as Dionysus Chthonios, whose mysteries promised memory and rebirth to his followers if they drank from the waters of a secret river in Hades, the Mnemnosyne. As for the wine of libations, well — everyone knows to meet the dead, you must feed them. (A small aside, it is not the only poem referring Dionysus in the issue! Andrew Watson’s Blood and Honey is about a more violent side of Dionysus.)
If you would like to feed the dead while you read, honey wine and other hydromels have been a traditional offering throughout most of history. But if you don’t have mead or spiced krupnikas handy to sip on, try this pomegranate-honey cooler. (Original Recipe from Martha Stewart)
For one cup:
- 4oz white wine
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 2/3 tbsp honey
Instructions: Mix pomegranate juice and wine. Drizzle honey in and muddle until dissolved. Tip a little into the earth to salute the ghosts who love you, and drink.