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The book The House of the World has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and is now available on Amazon.

Mission Cemetery in St. Augustine

The little stones were tired.
They had names,
but their inscriptions were almost gone.
Storm after storm had almost
erased them.
Microbial action joined
in the concerted action of time
to bury their identities
to alter the persistence of grief.
Take away their memories.

I did not realize at first
that they were children’s graves.
And then I deciphered a stone
before a tiny plot,
like a vanishing face
trying to say their names.
Two children, a brother and sister,
together in the same earth.
They were three and six years old,
died in the same week
of some unknown pestilence.
By the mission erected to the
Blessed Mother.

My heart failed.
I wept inside.
Did their parents bury them?
Had they perished, doomed like them?
After a century and a half
could I hide from this?
I wanted them back.
I wanted them alive,
here and now,
not because I was angry,
not because they were greater
than the cosmos that failed them,
but because no reality
that harbored beauty should
have this happen.

A crime without a perpetrator
had been committed.
The plaster figurine inside the mission
was a helpless wish,
and nothing was redeemed.
There is nothing I could do
in this self-same world to help
these babies,
who passed away,
were put in each others arms and
relieved from their suffering
by the Good Shepherd of Death.

Published inIndex of all Poems