Brown September Grass
Mount Kenton Cemetery, Lone Oak Kentucky
I stand here on the brown September grass where they lie beneath—
the durable bones of my father, the soft white ashes of my mother’s bones.
Not long, and few standing here will know their stories, then no one.
I do not know their stories, though many are the times I’ve tried
to piece them together for myself. They did not know my story, either,
though they put their arms around me when I was new and young.
Around them are the headstones of Breeden, Milliken, Harned,
Rothrock, Andersen, Sights, names of persons I did not know at all.
Here is the stone for DeJarnatt, my second grade teacher, whose first name
I learn now was Margaret. She was kind, and corrected our course
after the bewildering acts of our first grade teacher who was cruel.
Walking a ways, I find a stone for Marshall, mother of a boy I knew well,
who lives now in far off Australia. I pause here now for him. I did not know
his mother had died, eleven years ago. I always loved her swirled name, Lenore,
and her sister’s name, Eleanor. Who gave them these cradled, sistered names?
In what night, or what dawn; and was it still; was it raining; was it perfection?
Thousands here under the trees, so many the cemetery streets have names,
and suddenly, unexpected, it is unbearable to me that I do not know them,
do not know who dug the graves, who carved the headstones, do not know who
comes here to cut the grass, who rakes the leaves, even if for pay and not for love.
What would I do just now if I did not believe in the One who knows their stories,
never forgetting them, who created them for the stories never to be forgotten by him.
Perhaps poignancy is nothing less than his eye opening for a moment
through our own to see his works. And I think of Christ, alone, in Gethsemane,
praying. It must be that we secretly love everyone as I kneel here
on the brown September grass softly weeping among uncountable mysteries.
© The Estate of Sandford Lyne