One March afternoon in 1969 I was on the deck of a Chinese junk listening to the water clop against the wooden hull and enjoying a breeze that blew toward the South China Sea. The junk bobbed ... [+]
Loudest is the graveyard’s call
On afternoons in autumn’s fall
As light between the twigs gets squeezed
Before the rising nighttime breeze
And leaves upon the walkway crawl
Or shiver ‘gainst the curbing wall.
Where monuments in rank and row
Burst from the frozen earth below
Confronting us as we stroll by
To shout : ” We’re here!. Here we lie!”
Today the dead are simply gone,
Vanished under flattened lawn
Where sod encroaches buried steles
Like proud flesh over scars that heal
And crews in jitneys putt the green
Ensuring that the place stays clean.
Not so in ancient plots – not so.
In neighborhoods, stones appear
Segregated by their years.
Beneath the lean and flinty slate,
Proud their Puritan estate,
They snub the Brownstones
Scrubbed nearly bare
By winter wind and summer wear.
Muted too the limestone towers
Pitted by the acid showers
As sometimes blank the marble face
Whose occupants leave little trace.
Granite stands storms the most,
Quarried from the Eastern Coast,
And shining as if polished shields
Catch what light the evening yields.
Yet, messages are much the same:
A start, a finish, and a name.
But ‘tween those naked, stone-cut dates
There passed the lives, the dreams, the fates
Of people past, to history born,
Now lost to time and little mourned.
Like hoary books on moldy shelves
They wait their common tales to tell
Of love and loss, of hope and grief
And that their time was all too brief.
But if the Coming ever be
When graves disgorge and souls set free
Then hills and forest ringed around
Will vibrate with their urgent sound
As all together voice their plea
In raucous, wild cacophony.