"The Past" Contest Winners / September 2012 (Issue 18)

The Old Cemetery

by Richard L. Luftig

Richard L. Luftig There is no driveway leading in,
just a tight squeeze to park between
County Road 46 and the fencerow
of well-worn stones that runs along
the rim of the place and the past-
-their prime trees that have grown
and taken over as sentry guards;  
hazelnut, dogwood, ninebark and pine,
floating their seedpods on the lost

lives below. The leaning markers,
standing discreetly apart like neighbors
who believe in minding their own
affairs and keeping their heartaches
to themselves, have modestly let
the announcements of their lives
fade in the wind and rain like newspaper
clippings in an album yellowed with age;
here a daughter dead at sixteen,

further toward the woods, a woman’s
headstone, an artificial rose sticking
out of a rusting coffee can,
and at the very edge a single grave
for two babies dead in childbirth,
the marker barely peeking out among
the pokeweed and pushgrass,
nearly choking off a last, surviving
strand of Queen Anne Lace.
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