The following poem feels rather undone to me. It comes from Read Write Poem prompt # 85 image prompt, “Cemetery in Malvern”. It’s a sepia print of two men squatting in a graveyard. I went in a couple of directions before I boiled it down to the idea that these men were old buddies, not necessarily friends, but former coworkers. They were grave diggers – one of them still worked there, the other had left but decided to walk through on a morning and find his old friend. Obviously, in this setting, what more could you have but a conversation that somehow relates to work?
GROUNDS CREW MORNING
You said this work shouldn’t hurt. It only did once, when a girl
of nine or ten came to a grave with her dog at the end
of a long leash. She was right out of Rockwell print, red hair,
freckles, yellow sun dress and floppy hat to spare her neck.
I imagined she was here to see a dead grandparent. I didn’t
make a habit of watching people pass through.
There was something about the girl. Too reserved
for her age. Not banged up about the dead body
under the grass.
She was the loveliest thing I’d ever want to see from the shade
of a tall pine. I stopped thinking about all the rest I had to dig.
That’s when I remembered how you said never check the graves,
forget the dates, be content
with whoever it is you think is down there.
This one time I drew the nerve, waited until she and the dog
were gone then walked to the stone. Did the math
on someone named Margaret. “Loving Mom,” dead a year.
Figured God sometimes leaves the little ones here to work it out.