20 April 18 NaPoWriMo
In woody glen, ancient trees arc
over seven canted graves:
stones planted to honor memory--
What grows here?
Do you, Stephen Downing, who passed
in 1863 have those who come to honor you?
Or Walter Fitzhugh, or James McElroy Simmons?
You both died the same day in 1867.
Were you friends or strangers?
Sarah E. Chambers and infant girl, 1868--
your husband outlived you by mere days.
A son, aged three, two weeks later. Did some
sickness take you all; was grief too much to bear?
Crooked, hunched over tombs,
cracked from bitter Michigan winters,
barely legible words etched are fading--
did they fade too from memory?
Who remembers your existence now aside
from this lone wanderer who wonders?
Small plot off a footpath, surrounded by
a rusted and broken iron fence. No home nearby,
no fallen in timbers or shallow dip
from earth-dug cellar. Mostly just deer
who meander by, a lone cardinal perched
atop of Sarah sings early spring song.
Such a simple desire--
to be remembered by someone, to feel
that even in death we, somehow, go on.
Cemetaries, sacred and sacrosanct,
are left apart, alone and lonely.
Plant no stone over me.
I need no grave to fall and crack:
plant me under a tree instead.
Let my ashes become a part
of something living.
Let the words I've written stay behind
tucked into bookshelves or
left on a nightstand
show I was here, existed.
We are all more
than a date carved in stone
in some forgotten graveyard.