Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

In Glasnevin Cemetery

Theo Dorgan
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 85, No. 4 (Winter 2011)

The ground is heavy clay and the heavy spade
a live thing in my grip as I cut the ground.
Pale sky, pale rushing clouds, a sister’s hands
sifting your father’s ashes on your mother’s grave.
 
Your sisters stand and watch, their lovely daughters
gathered in close as this one last time you gift him
a daughter’s gesture: here’s rosemary, for remembrance—
I open a cup of ground as you bed it in;
 
here are wallflowers (you sift in compost, pat the ground firm)
tough and tenacious as any Dub—and I am struck,
shook, to think what I owe this man I loved,
this woman I never met laid in the same clay.
 
We finish the work, I spade the ground neat and flat;
you rise from your crouch, a hand in the small of your back.
Her eyes, his eyes in your look, the twin dark stars
that have held me spellbound since the day we met.
 
And so life goes on, borne down on the wind,
I am thinking this as I heft the spade and turn
to walk away, no longer sure what, if anything, I believe,
until your small strong hand takes a grip of mine.
 
Clay and ash on the wind, on our shoes, high clouds,
a keen cold wind, your sisters’ laughter, their daughters
stepping clear—your father and mother in the wind—
and one day, my love, we two in the wind—
 
What of it? The wind blows from always to always,
and didn’t you tell me once, and didn’t I tell you,
this is for always, the wind and whoever spins it
and we two borne up on it beyond the grave?