Marked only by a rusted cross of curlicues
among rows of lichen-covered stones,
your final resting place has churchyard hues,
this peaceful housing of your crumbled bones.
I know your name, Alice, when you were born
and the date of your last breath. Not a trace
of family, no husband or child left to mourn.
I wonder who you were, the shape of your face,
how bright your smile, the colour of your eyes.
who you loved and who loved you in return.
But from this rusted cross, I can only surmise,
Alice, that you lived and died alone.
Kim M. Russell, 9th June 2020
My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Back to Life
Laura is back to host Poetics this Tuesday, and it seems we have something in common besides writing: churchyards and cemeteries. To get us in the mood, she has shared lines from Elizabeth Bartlett’s ‘Drop me off at the Cemetery’, Leslies Norris’s ‘Elegy for an old Man found Dead on a Hill’, and Longfellow’s ‘In the Churchyard at Cambridge’, as well as making reference to Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, in which Captain Cat converses with his dead companions.
For this prompt we must rely totally on our imagination to poetically resurrect a deceased person, that must be unknown to us. Laura says we can choose a character from the Norris or Longfellow poem, or one of Captain Cat’s old sea salts. We could find a similar poem that introduces a deceased character and fill in the details; or pick a name from a headstone in any churchyard or cemetery.
I have resurrected and rewritten a poem from 2016, written after a visit to our local churchyard.