A WALK THROUGH A GRAVEYARD
You walk through a graveyard
On a grey autumn morning
Graves surround you
Some are smooth and made of stone
Others are simply raised mounds of sand
Some have large tombstones with crosses and angels
While others contain nothing but a simple plaque
Some are well-maintained with fresh flowers
Their colour out of place in the grey landscape
Others lie forgotten in the shadows of trees
Concrete cracking and tombstone rusting
You look at the name on the grave
First name Anna or George or John
Surname Norrish or Padoga or Jones
You try to imagine a face and personality
Blue eyes or brown?
Blonde hair or black?
Bubbly or shy?
What country did they come from?
What sort of house did they live in?
What was their family like?
What was their favourite food?
What did they think about death?
You look at the age on the grave
35- a life cut short
13 hours- how cruel is fate
91- an admirable age
Stillborn- didn't even get a chance
16- the same age as me
You wonder how they died
But above all, did they know?
You look at the date of death
Some of these people never had to hear about the World Wars
Others never used a mobile or a computer or watched TV
April 19, 1949- exactly 55 years ago today
July 30, 1998- I wonder what I was doing that day
May 11, 1987- the day I was born
Was it sunny or raining on 28 December, 1973?
1912, 1962, 1899, 1982, 1930, 1877, 1959
And the oldest grave- 1862
How does the body look like 20 years after death?
You look at these graves and you realise
One day, you will join all these people
I, who sit and write this poem in 2004
Will one day be decaying beneath the ground
And I wonder what my grave will look like
Will it be remembered or lie forgotten?
What will people associate with my name?
At what age will death claim me?
How will my life end?
What date of death will be etched on my tombstone?
What events will I never live to see?
So many questions that only death can answer
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I visited my fifth graveyard while in the country (then my sixth after this poem was written). After the initial sadness passed, I felt somewhat fascinated. Why? Because it felt like I was walking through time. And doing that raises questions. Which is why this poem was written. This probably all sounds very macabre and indeed, this is probably the most morbid thing I've ever written. But visiting cemeteries tends to do that to you!