Caroline Misner


Cemetery in Autumn


No one buries their dead here anymore;
amid the brown corroded tombstones,
like jagged teeth gathered around the mausoleum,
the centerpiece of the grounds, flanked by obelisks
where the stone cherubim leap into the mist
as though frozen in flight.

Only the gnarled and hunchbacked trees
weep flakes of amber leaves upon the ground
where the corpses, shrouded in bitter grass,
have long since been digested by the uncompromising
earth beneath a burgeoning milky sky
as though trying to press the trees back into the ground.

A fog sweeps in softly like the roaming spirits
roused from their restless repose, shuffling
the blooms of coral along the breast of ground,
the only homage offered them now that no one
bothers to mourn the death of people whose names
have faded into illegible stone.

An owl flutters between boughs of spruce
tunneling through ribbons of mist as though
leaping through time; its wings as soundless
as the whispers of unrequited love, dodging
the falling leaves that flake down like embers,
hot from the spying mist.

There is nothing to fear, here along the chalky
footpaths of the cemetery, desecrated
by neglect and ambivalence and the rivers
of time, the obelisks like steeples of pine.
There’s no one left to weep for the dead,
no one but me and the blood-red dripping leaves.

Submitted: Monday, March 24, 2008
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