At Cemetery Ridge

[Originally published November 6th, 2016. S.R.]

I’m not alone at Cemetery Ridge this morning. There’s a thirty-year-old man here with what appears to be his ten-year-old daughter.

She lays a bouquet of bright yellow roses on a grave. As gray as the morning is, they stand out all the more. The only other color is the girl’s deep red coat.

He puts his hand on her shoulder, as she begins to cry, uncontrollably. He puts his arm all the way around her, as she sinks to her knees, and he follows.

I can’t stare at them anymore, it feels indecent. Instead I wander on from where I was visiting (my father-in-law’s grave) to some of the other friends we’ve lost these last years. One grave, a particular woman who I knew as a singer, is over where the trees grow thorny and wild. The gray and desolate morning only makes the trees look wilder.

This cemetery has a name, of course, but for as long as I can remember, people have called it “Cemetery Ridge”. This hill slopes down on the other side of the trees, and I can see the gray town in the distance. I visit this grave, and then two others, finally heading back to my car.

In the parking lot, I see the man and his daughter approaching their car. To my surprise, there is a woman wearing sunglasses waiting for them within it. I had assumed from what I saw that the man had lost his wife and the girl her mother; but, apparently not, as the woman has obviously been crying in the car. She’s holding a sort of shapeless stuffed animal.

Oh my God, she lost a child. The little girl lost a sibling: a sister, maybe, or a brother.

Now, my eyes are filling with tears. At that exact moment, just as the man finishes helping his daughter into the car and the arms of her mother, he turns and sees me, tears streaming down my face; and I could tell, in that brief moment, that he was concerned about me, and whatever grief might have brought me to this place.

His grief was my grief. My grief was his grief.

They leave within moments, driving slowly away. I stand by my car as a gray wind blows across the ridge, moving the leafless trees.

 


 

For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.

 

Although

Although I speak,
My light was meant to listen;
Though I might sing,
My body’s meant to dance —-

We’re really made
Of more than our intentions:
Choice, place, and time,
Those spawns of circumstance,

Design the game,
The rules that we must move in.
With glimpses few
Of what’s outside the lines —

Although I write,
My light was made for silence
In worlds beyond, which baffle

Our designs

At Twenty

(At twenty, she was everything to me)
  She lay out in the warming April sun
(At once, both remedy and malady)
  To bask as though the summer had begun
  Or maybe, just for her, the only one.
(I loved her with a love both strong and true:
  And she was like, ‘just who the hell are you?’)

  In college: she, a princess and a star
(I was a jester, a nonentity)
  The light of any class and ev’ry bar
(I had no me, no real identity;
  Just hopes for virtue, and for devilry)
An April when the world was hers to hold
And fleeting touches turned to lasting gold

(I died at twenty much more than I lived)
  She was both perfect heart and vanity;
(I never had the knack, but had the gift)
  She grew into her mind, and her humanity
  Soon blossomed into balance, hope, and sanity.
(While I went on to madness, and to rue:
  At twenty, that was all that I could do)

Along the Pure Blue Sea

She walks along the pure blue sea
As happy now as she can be;
For she is finally, finally free –
She’s finally free of love and me.

She once bore all the fetid weight
Of marriage to a damned ingrate;
A saddle carved by love and fate
To know her but to not relate.

But one day, she woke up to this:
That ignorance is hardly bliss,
And men who are not worth a piss
Are better off to just dismiss.

She walks along the pure blue sea
As happy now as she can be;
For she is finally, finally free —
She’s finally free of love
And me