Canting northward,
catawampus compass needle,
the headstone indicates
an uncertainly certain destiny,
a terminal destination.

Weathered by a century
of snow, rain, wind, and sun,
the marble worn faint,
the markings remark
the significance of the stone,
the lines faded to illegibility,
thin as a threadbare shroud:

Somebody born in March,
Eighteen hundred sometime,
someone beloved somehow:
Wife? husband? Perhaps.
Daughter or son, certainly.
Such is the stamp of mortality.

Dusk settles in
the gloam descending
like a mourning veil,
a grim apparition—
fearfilling angel or ghost
to hallow or haunt
the scene—skies,
dark at last,
warmed only
by an autumn moon waxing full,
waking the night’s creatures:
owl, vixen and her kits,
insects resoundingly full of life
on these grounds
absent of the living
so much of the day.

No one comes here
to read the unreadable,
to tread among these
interred, entombed,
until the end of time
blindly marches
toward eternity.

© 2021, 2024; first appeared in print in diet milk magazine Spring/Summer II (2023)

© 2024. Recorded 15 March 2024: Evening with a Poet event at The MacMillan Institute, Duncanville, Texas.

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