Today we lift a muslin veil
draping the stone that marks her grave
and read the words. All year we haggled
over syllables and lines, as if inscription
were a poem we had to write–we, her children,
elderly ourselves–as April turned to summer,
and the flowers she loved drooped in the heat.
We recalled her in the doorway grateful
for a summer breeze, and how she hated cold,
feared the thought of winter in the icy ground.
You are beyond feeling, I whispered, holding close
her memory or spirit in the bitter months
to warm us both. Now it is spring again,
leaf buds popping in a sunny chill and you’re
not here. We hadn’t space enough for all the words
that might have told her life: “Loved Art and Poems,”
for instance, had to go, along with “Loyal Friend,”
and there was no way to show the narrow place
that was her past and that she managed to surpass,
opening her soul and self so wholly to the great
green earth now covering her final sleep.
We settled in the end: “Dear Mother” and
“Beloved Wife,” sentiments so usual yet new
and true, blasted in the granite we unveil,
no longer mourners but survivors,
yearning for honey from a rock.