The Fieldstone Review

The visit

I come to the cemetery
ironically, metonymically
named Mount Hope.
I can't remember where she's buried
though my mother showed me once--
Not on the hilltop where one son sleeps
beside his first wife, his second wife
beside her first husband close by.
Farther on, I pass the tombstone of his lover
Such a cozy place, all these stories
leaching from bones, draining into silence.

I find her at the bottom--my grandmother-
at the bottom of Mount Hope,
beside him of whom little was spoken
(in the end they had to watch him every minute
for fear he'd shoot them all).
I've come to ask her advice-this woman whose doleful eyes
reach beyond a faded photograph, all I have of hers--
That, and the farm I've just inherited,
the one she inherited from her father, and he from his.
I'm guessing she knows a lot, having lived
there as a girl, nursed her dying brother,
taken her chances with a man who once
tore an owl out of the sky with his whip.

At home she birthed a daughter, two sons,
taught them
'the less you have
the less you have to do'.
Must have seemed odd,
a scarcity of everything but chores-
milking, haying, planting, weeding, milking...

Today is hot and muggy.
Crickets sing.
Beside her grave, pale pink roses
planted in love or out of duty,
sun not quite burning through a veil of clouds
vale of tears, voila, voile, voy elle
I stand at the bottom of Mount Hope
at my grandmother Oradell's grave
and wait.