Graveyard Poem

Sue Wootton Click to

WoottonSue Wootton is the author of three collections of poetry, an illustrated children’s book, and the short story collection, The Happiest Music on Earth (Rosa Mira Books, 2013). Sue has won several awards for her work and held the 2008 Robert Burns Fellowship at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand. She works as a researcher and editor and lives in Dunedin. Further information is available on her website, .

Sue Wootton – Graveyard Poem (2012)
In a cemetery in sunlight with names
wept into granite, I lie on a grave

under a defoliating oak, crisp leaves
flittering. Concrete cold creeps

into my spine, aligns me with death. But
the sun’s warm yet. You sit

on the neighbour’s tomb, you wait,
and quietly we listen to the trees’ last-minute discussions.

Then we walk, past all the men in their sunken plots, dear morning
beards, and the yews twisting roots through their bones

all the graves on a slope so steep the lids
might slip off like toboggans should it snow

all the wives adored or endured, corseted or cosseted,
whose costal cartilages smile whitely, deep in the dirt

all the children with their terrifying ages engraved stark against bewilderment –

it’s right to be so afraid
of love.

We walk. We wend past the mossy graves on soft earth
which takes our footprints in and gives them back, a little bounce

and the green words chant on the tombstones
dearly beloved, deeply cherished,

and the angels dip their wingtips to our occasionally touching palms
and the leaves rustle underfoot: risk it, risk it.


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