So, hand in hand with my love of history comes my fascination with cemeteries. I know that sounds morbid, but really it comes from that overwhelming sense of reverence I have when I see one, especially the old, forgotten ones.
You know the ones I mean–little family cemeteries from ages past, isolated in a farmer’s field or even right in the middle of suburbia (there’s one within a two-minute walk from where I work, right between a Walgreens and a Goodwill store). There’s something that comes over me when I walk through one, the markers all faded by the years, the people buried beneath long forgotten. But if you look carefully, sometimes you find some very interesting stories just from the inscriptions, especially if the family had a poem inscribed.
The ones that always move me are children’s gravestones–and a marker at the cemetery near I work has one for two children who died under the age of eight within three weeks of each other. What heartache the parents must’ve felt to lose their two daughters within mere weeks of another? It humbles me, in a time where we often take life for granted, where we think we’re invincible and can “live forever.” These graves make me remember how fragile life really is, even amidst the busy traffic and neverending mobility of the 21st century.
Anyway, a few years back I actually wrote a poem about this for a writing challenge. It’s called “Markers of a Time Forgotten.”
Deep within an ageless forest
Where light and sound doth fade,
The passage of time seems to stem
To those who tread this glade.
Within this dell between time’s weeds,
Covered by countless years
Four faded gravestones catch the eye
A sight that one reveres.
Beneath a tree with sprawling roots
A tall white marker stands—
Enshrouded in a veil of moss,
Reflecting a life once grand.
Another stone stands tall within
The regal marker’s wake.
The only words that do remain:
“The Lord my soul doth take.”
Yonder within the shaded grove,
Two smaller stones still lie—
Akin in size, shape and shade
The two sit side by side.
One little stone is chipped and cracked,
A victim of the years.
The other fares little better,
Erased by heaven’s tears.
Four lonely graves within the grove,
Abandoned to the past.
Bygone memories, cherished lives—
Forgotten oh so fast.
Our lives are but a moment now
On this temporal sphere.
Seasons pass and memories fade
Relics of yesteryear.
These four stones will surely crumble
As time and years pass by.
But these four lives will surely wake
With the final trumpet’s cry.