Tuesday, April 24, 2012

24 of 30: Forgotten

Today I am posting as part of the Slice of Life conversation going on at Two Writing Teachers.  Since completing the March challenge, I have been writing a poem each day with Mary Lee, Linda, Amy, Maria and many others (see side bar for National Poetry Month links).  I think I can safely say I am back in the writing habit.  I'm looking forward to reading the posts at other blogs today.    

Today I was egret chasing once again when I wandered into the Clover Cemetery.  This cemetery isn't a strange place to me as I have spent many summer days researching our genealogy.  This cemetery is where my husband's great-great-great grandparents are buried.  There are many McCoys in this cemetery which is now surrounded by apartments.  Unfortunately, it has been more than time and weather that has started to destroy this old cemetery.  Though I knew what I wanted to say in this poem, I wasn't sure what voice to use to write the poem.
"To allow the voice its chance to develop we have to listen as we write and encourage those words, phrases, lines, those rhythms and pauses, that clarify the text."  Donald M. Murray, Crafting a Life in Essay, Story, Poem

This picture taken by Gustafson (and housed at genealogy.net)
in 2000.  Compare with a picture I took today at the bottom
of this post.
Decades have passed
since families came here
to lay loved ones to rest.
Clergy searching for words of comfort,
tears streaming down faces,
hearts heavy,
as they said goodbye.

For years I rested here quietly watching
generations passing through my gates,
placing flowers near stones
attempting to mark
the significance of life once lived.
Family and loved ones visited,
to share stories,
to say prayers,
to remember.

I have held their stories.
I have cradled their loved ones.
I have sheltered them.
The fields around me are gone,
replaced by rising buildings housing hundreds.
These people do not care who I am,
they do not pass through my gates
to pay their respects.

The nearby pond - manmade,
now sits at my side.
I watch the birds glide by,
the fisherman cast his pole,
the children play near the water,
but I am lonely.
No longer does anyone stop by with flowers.
No longer are stories whispered in my ear.

The stones marking the lives of many:
the farmer, the soldier, the mother -
no longer stand.
They have been damaged by carelessness.
Desecrated by those who care little about the past.
Though the rain and wind erases the names,
disregard pushes them over,
moves them far from their places.

What will become of me as I wait
for someone
to lift my stones toward the sky
to share my stories once again?

© Cathy L. Mere, 2012

Clover Cemetery, April 24, 2012


  1. I really like this. THe last stanza, especially, struck me. Old cemeteries are always so sad, yet so mysterious. When we travel I love to go and visit them and just walk around and imagine the stories held there. (Is that weird?)

  2. "What will become of me as I wait
    for someone
    to lift my stones toward the sky
    to share my stories once again?"

    Oh, I was meant to find this today. So beautiful, Cathy. Last weekend, my husband and I were walking through an old cemetery with many broken stones. We just walked and read, walked and read. I've always loved cemeteries (they give me perspective) and your poem in the voice of one is beautiful and sad. Thank you for this. As I try to keep up with April, I have not gotten around as much...but how happy I am to have found you tonight. a.

  3. I have held their stories.
    I have cradled their loved ones.
    I have sheltered them.

    These lines bring me comfort~
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful voice and perspective, your poem truly brings me comfort and gives me a new lens for the cemetery.

  4. Love what you've done here, Cathy. "Lift my stones toward the sky/to share my stories once again?" is wonderfully poignant, especially in first person. My school is near a beautiful cemetery that I've taken my students to & written there with them. It is a very good experience. This particular one has a famous people & tree & history tour one can go on, too. But there is one old one that I've visited with family where some of my ancestors are, a special place, like yours that you are writing about. Thanks for the beautiful words.

  5. What a perfect companion piece to what I'm reading right now! (The Graveyard Book). I'd love to have a group of students read that novel and then read your poem and then visit some old cemeteries. (And thanks for mentioning my poetry exploits, too!)

  6. You chose the right voice, I think. The pace of the poem is slow, like time, and the mood you created (for me) is sorrowful and regretful.

    It's hard to watch time and vandals take away the places that have been important and loved...


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