On Prospect Hill

Decaying leaves and hearthsmoke scent the air
where Autumn maples bleed upon the earth.
Vermilion stars obscure the Date of Birth
on marble footstones, nestle in my hair
and bristle on my coat, on my beret.
Each tree cleaves to its mark on Prospect Hill,
a chorus done with rage and mourning still
gesticulates against the smoldering gray
of moon and clouds. I find a date of death
beneath the crispness of an ochre shroud,
the adamant inflections—Daughter, Wife.
I learn the family name, recite aloud
the chiseled prayer in saturated breath
that tastes the temporal elements of life.

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