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Old North Field

Here is an acre of the old North Field
where Sam Bouton, Frederick Peck and his wife Sarah B.,
The Greenes, Scofields, Hoyts and Haffs lie.
Morning cold shivers stones toward one another;
Edwin and Jemima trying to cuddle in the slow quiet of their hundred years.
Water squeaks inside dark cracks returning an inscription to dust;
a lodger to anonymity.

This place is the shrine of order and discord.
Rough walls, clematis prodding unruly markers,
an orchard of neglected silhouettes.

The temptation is to make fun of names,
giggle while crossing each low green tent
laugh as if this were not our destination,
lying somewhere where the stones are neater
or the wall has our name engraved upon it -

John Scofield
1746 - 1833
and his wife
Elizabeth Nichols
She saved Stamford
from being burned
by the British in 1779

Even though it's so very cold, sometimes
I want to jam my fingers into the dark ground beneath a conifer
and ask her rootbones: Whose flavor makes the grass grow greener than it should,
given the lack of care?

The leaves are never raked, the grass only mown in summer.

Behind Sarah -and stones too worn to read,
a shopping cart has lived for months,
piled with plastic bags, leaves and dirt:
some passing homeless invited by grass or epitaph joining the residents in sleep.

So few but the unsettled visit here
bringing their beer bottle, street sign,
American flag left to bleach in the plot fence.

A tree, split, bottles of Night Train jammed in the crack
one tombstone long grown into its trunk
the inscription gone to lichen and heartwood.

Bottles are broken on gravestones
as if to say: We are living and mobile
and powerful enough to breach this wall,
only to leave crystal dregs of hurt and fear;
tired deposits against an account that will call in our dust.

I can go to coffee,
go in from the singe of brittle cold.
They will stay here lodged deep enough in time and earth,
unaware I walked this ground
pondering what it means to search
as if they were not me,
I were not me,
and this were not some kind of home.