Going To Ground (Poetry)

15th April 2018
In Sacred Loving Memory ...
the weathered stones declare
worn names and dates record the loss
of all those buried there

Like penitents the fallen sink
into forgiving grass
oblivious of earth’s dark chill
while decades sidle past

The newer members sit more straight
as though uncertain how
they came to be in this quiet place
or what the rules allow

Wild flowers indiscriminate
cheer up neglected graves
crowd blue green white and yellow as
Spring’s company invades

to touch the slope where smaller plots
lie in the lukewarm sun
those little lives some hand cut short
their journeys half-begun

Inscriptions tell each tender tale —
the babe who scarcely breathed
before the angels came for her
left broken hearts to grieve

with presents for their lost princess —
a teddy, a balloon
each birthday marked beside the cross
she rests beneath too soon

Here a daughter — there a son
who served and died at sea
aged twenty-five. They brought him home
to rest eternally

his headstone white as though fresh-scrubbed
and shipshape shines his plot
his parents, too, made sacrifice —
the only son they’d got

Late afternoon grows overcast
the breeze gusts sharp with rain
tree shadows stretch across the mounds
to further evening’s claim

Far-distant homeward traffic growls
its tedious refrain
a blackbird cheeps, the rabbits run
and go to ground again