DSCF7966Autumn graveyard
Creeping brambles
Tawny grasses
Half obscuring
Weathered tombstones
Scudding cumulus
Burst of sunshine
Lighting death dates
Year, month, and dayDSCF7980Hilltop graveyard
One room schoolhouse
Inn and churchyard
Hamlet spread out
Down below
Settlers’ green bones
Slowly seeping
Through the soil
They called their ownDSCF8091Old-world graveyard
Back to nature
All must follow
Feeding roots of
Oak and maple
Sinking softly
Joined in union
Spirits rising
Salt of the earthDSCF8046

There is an old graveyard near my home. It sits atop a hill surrounded by a hamlet dating back to the 18th century. The one room schoolhouse and church are a stone’s throw away. The parsonage, inn, and farmhouses are spread out at the foot of the hill. A dull school child could watch the gravedigger at work across the road. The journey from farmhouse, to church, to graveyard—a small triangle.

Many of the tombstones have been wiped clean by wind and rain. Those that are legible show a curiosity: Death dates meticulously recorded to the month and day, but no birth dates. The school mistress would only have to lead her pupils in a straggly line across the road and up the hill to impart a math lesson: If Mr. Walling died on March 30th, 1860, aged seventy-five years, eight months and fifteen days, on what day was he born?DSCF7992




20 thoughts on “AUTUMN GRAVEYARD

      1. narble

        What I find comforting is giving the name a voice. I feel some kind of tenuous approval. It’s also a great way to collect names for characters that might appear in what I write. The oddest was when I had the opportunity to say my own name aloud: James Richard Stewart. It was a surprise and, I must admit, did not feel very comfortable.

      2. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

        That must have been a bit creepy. I do the same thing–look for character names. I often wonder about the stories attached to each headstone.

  1. Jose Escobar

    Beautifully done, Melissa. Great mood and pace to your writing and the photos just gently follow your words or maybe the other way around. The math lesson is always present. I also like old graveyards and cemeteries and there are some really nice ones here where I live.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Jose, thank you. Your photos are so evocative–I’d love to see some of your graveyard shots


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