I wrote this poem in 2008. While writing it, I finally learned that sometimes things that mattered not at all to me often mattered a great deal to someone else. This poem is from Dark Matter, and was one of the poems that won the 2009 Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize.
Mysterious white rock fingers on Mars
Dust blows on every world, I tell her
as we stand at the edge of the cemetery.
She is angered over the deadness where the grass
wore down. While we argue solutions I think
of Mars, how a strange unburial exposed
a crater’s heart so that white rock pointed
into the landscape like the cenotaph
for a whole planet. Here the small, rigid
gravestones mock us, their marble cold
as pointed fingers. My mother insists
that some seed will fix the erosion,
but I can’t help the wind or the crows
that abandon feathers everywhere,
littering the dead with indifferent fluttering.
Nana will never notice, I say and receive
her shoulder turning away from me,
the stiffness more evident than the love
as she walks to the stone. I follow, carefully
avoiding the pansies that have returned again
this April, their tiny petals trembling like wings
against the rocky ground.
September 2015 – Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books
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