t can’t be there’s anything new
here—the green field is a meadow, but only
if you squint, and if the gravestones
are missing, it is because they’ve been
replaced by plaques. You can stroll down
the gravel, you can picture a lake, you can squat
under the oak and hum . . .
the birds are senseless, and even
the berries are minding their tongue.
The grounds lacks definition because
you are used to congestion, and if there is room
to breathe, it is because you have stayed put.
The grass is unnatural, and if you stumble
over a name or your foot is suddenly countersunk
on a bronze, you are startled but not mystified.
The canopies that are rolled over
the entombments are like yurts on a Mongolian
grassland, as is the one you are under—a green
canvas on a movable scaffold that could be either
a proscenium or a cage, depending on your
ability to adjust. The light drizzle is without content,
as are the ritual prayers, which are neither song
nor desire—not even language—but
artifacts no one has seen fit to discard.
Depersonalized, with a pickup cleric
who has taken cursory notes,
the obsequies are to the point
and predictable. They lack physical
substance because they rely upon usage.
Neither poetic nor soaring,
neither substantive nor specific,
they conclude what has already been concluded.
The vague inclinations you might normally
follow to their summations seem here
not thought nor feeling but distant
disturbances, like meteors
or the stars out of whack. You finger
them, but they are without dimension.
They stay and they go—make no demands.
The four edges of the grounds have shrunk—
they lean indulgently toward you, as if to test
your expansiveness. It is dangerous here
because there is no glory or defiance, only
an innocence that is partially mitigating
and partially incomprehensible. It is not
an end, it is not a beginning, and it is
nowhere in the middle—an abstraction, perhaps,