On Cemeteries

by Edward Alan Bartholomew 

Back to Index

I. Erosion 

I could erect a monument to death 
And carve my name and epitaph in stone 
But words are just as fleeting as my breath— 
My monument is made of flesh and bone. 

Indeed, like granite, filed by the rain, 
Whose names and dates will ever be unfound, 
We leave them lying here who we have lain 
As headstones toppled wanton to the ground. 

But while their names will wash away in years 
And melt into the soil with their flesh, 
We, left living, welcome weather's tears 
And let the showers wash our bodies fresh. 

II. Plots 

What rope is this, tied round a plot of land 
To separate the sacred from the plain 
And make uncomfortable on which to stand 
These grounds, that like all others, suffer rain? 

The plots on which I make my daily rounds 
Are no less sacred than the breathless fields; 
The same grass grows in fair and fertile towns 
As in the lands from which we draw no yields. 

III. Ideals 

What ideal immortalizes dying 
With figurines that celebrate decay, 
Which stand ironic of their subjects lying— 
Staying while their subjects waste away? 

What Ideal shapes stone to mask the slough 
And sculpts a youthful bust out of the sickly? 
One human form is monument enough. 
I hope it crumbles quickly.