At the field’s far end, down by
the dredged and roaring stream,
past alleys of long light reaching
through windbreak maple and beech
to scrape an old barn ruddy,
despite its sagging loft,
you’ll find them:

Headstones and
their heavings, those we label
“forgotten and ignored,”
as if we could forget them,
the dead, and all their trappings.

Listless, historical, bored—
no doubt they do not mind
the gate’s low groan when opened
by the odd man out in spring,
who, there among the weeds,
the names, the graven phrase
or two, might find himself
reduced to those low whispers
of “Gardner, Doty, Nash . . . ,”

Or, considering the past,
hears in his own heart’s knocking
the windy present beat,
takes measure of the stones,
makes note of their mossy touch,
straddles the tufted grass;
and closes the gate and goes home.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 7, on page 43
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