Standing at the Cemetery

From: Standing at the Cemetery
Over the Graves of my mother, father
grandfather, grandmother

August 14, 2008

I am about to turn sixty

I was visiting their graves in Detroit
They are buried within jumping distance of each other
Where time elapses
Ten years twenty years
Equalized underneath a bed of petunias newly planted.
The road jumps between generations
At the cemetery.

I stood on their graves and told them about the events
Of the last year or two
Filled them in on our children
Remembered the duty I have
To fill in
For my children
Who my people are
And how they walked in the world.

I think we mourn too easily
The people I bury hardly ever spend shiva
In seven days of mourning
I think shiva should be seven years
We should throw ourselves onto the ground
Spread dirt on our faces
Live in squalor on the floor
Until we can stand up again
Drag ourselves to our feet because
Our reservoir of tears has finally dried up

I am in mourning all the time for everything and everyone
I have loved the most.

Visiting with my people
There was no one else in the cemetery that day
I forgot to bring stones
There are generally no stones lying about
But that day there was one stone on my grandfather’s grave
Which I had placed there the last time I visited.
I found a stone in the grass nearby
And placed it on his daughter’s grave
My mother
Who mourned for him ferociously.

I am just like my mother
My grandfather
My father
My grandmother.

We are all born before
And we are born
Again and again.

For my children