Grey settled upon evening. As I carried
The spoils of a working day inside my bag,
I claimed the shorter path through the cemetery.
Motionless, the mourning trees kept vigil
Over silent graves. At first I did not see
The two of them, perched by a low stone wall,
In filthy coats, and carrying haggard sacks
Of empty-seeming content. I ignored
Their presence through the overgrown weeds: but then,
Once noticed, I could not keep my mind from them.
Though I wandered through the gardens of the dead,
Their mien alone was enough to make me think…
And the language they exchanged – which from the slightest
Distance is no language to my ears –
All seemed so out of place with the peace of tombs.
Insisting to myself I was alone,
I kept my pace, I kept my gaze straight fixed
Upon the path – I heard their laughter still –
I began to plead the soil itself to save me.
I wished for the moon to bring humility,
Somehow, or else to cast a different shade
Upon the keepers of that lonesome place.
I placed one hand upon my bag, in case.
Yet soon I’d reached the threshold of the gates;
And nothing had passed. I noticed that, for a while,
I hadn’t dared exhale. I turned to see them,
Performing to themselves like poor courtiers
In a play. And so I eased my grasp,
On everything, and left them where they rest
To make my own strange peace with another night.
There is a small, rather beautiful graveyard directly outside my house. It is rich with lush grass, old trees with a brooding canopy; it is both peaceful, and quite unsettling in the dark. At night, the streetlights from the nearby roads make it just possible to see figures by the gravestones: silhouettes which seem to be slouching, stood motionless, waiting for some unknown time or event to arrive. I rarely can hear what it is they say to each other. I see them from the house – I wonder at times whether they ever see me – and then, I wonder whether they are wanderers in the graveyard, as I had first thought, or something altogether different.