Ancestral Ground


New England

When the wind is off the graveyard do you hear those muttering few
voices under the voices of the weather?
Rest easy, then: they can’t come after you.
Why do you think they make that hullabaloo?
They had kept body and soul too diligently together
for anything to undo.

Middle West

Where the wide river in its meanders left an alluvial hill,
the founding farmers planned their cemeteries.
They are green now, but the next slow sickle
of the river swings: a hundred years will tell.
Time enough, surely, for a ripening if there is
to be one: they planned well.


The house braced into the wind by the Sierra Madre shook
as we read the words marked off by my grandfather.
His words, his weather. We put him by the book
into no memorial park’s memorial nook,
knowing how he had begrudged us even the bother
a spreading of ashes took.