Low fences of concrete and iron
in varying degrees of sturdiness or collapse,
delineate gravesites and family plots
of a long-established and
long-neglected pioneer cemetery.
Whether they are meant to keep the living out,
or the spirits in, I’m not sure.
They seem inadequate for either task.
As a child I wandered this place of the dead,
on Sundays, after I had escaped the
torturously long church service,
and before my parents finished
drinking burnt coffee and eating stale cookies
and were finally ready to take me home.
Ever careful to avoid the mounds and divots
that belied a coffin underneath,
my imagination jumped at the chance
to interpret any slight cold breeze
that made the hanging moss sway, and
any crooked dead branch that
pointed at me like a bony accusatory finger,
as some displaced spirit,
disgruntled at my presence there.
Was it disrespectful to enter the gates
of those family plots since I did not
belong to the family?
Was I overstepping the boundaries
of the long-departed when I
stepped over the fences
that parceled out their final resting places?
I guess I won’t find out the rules
for graveyard boundary etiquette
until I depart to my own final resting place.
If you come to my gravesite
to pay your respects,
look for a bony tree-branch finger
beckoning you to draw near,
and wait for that cold breath of air to
whisper in your ear.
I will give you the answers
about the boundaries of the dead.
And then I will cross that final boundary,
where long-winded sermons,
burnt coffee, and stale cookies
can haunt me no more.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries