Thoughts in an Old Cemetery

Large angel statuary headstone. Text: the giant monument stands beside the modest headstone.

Thoughts in an Old Cemetery

Poem by Iris Carden

I walk between neglected plots
the soil now housing the dead,
As I note the names, the stories and dates,
Odd thoughts appear in my head.

A metre by two and another two down,
Is their final, their permanent, home,
Whatever in life they thought they had,
this is all they can now claim to own.

Ancient woman, near young farmer
near housewife, tradesman, and child.
Another child, another and another
before vaccines,  disease ran wild.

Here they all are, forgotten by family
by descendants, by the town.
No longer tended, nor needed.
None remembered, or of any renown.

The giant monument stands
beside the modest headstone
stands by the unmarked grave
beside another and another one.

I wonder what difference it made,
the size of that memorial stone,
in your century below the soil,
where you lay all alone?

Did your family think they loved you more,
than all of your neighbours around?
Did they hope to buy you heaven?
Or status in this charnel ground?

Death’s a leveller, so they say,
but here in the old cemetery.
It’s still clear who had the money,
and whose death had to be free.

Now the mourners have left
the flowers long gone,
Great monument long forgotten,
just like the small stone.

The town bustles by too busy
to notice the old cemetery
Here we are left by ourselves
the stones and soil, the dead and me.

By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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