I teach my son to drive the truck
in the Chester Friends Cemetery.
There are no roads, not a trace
to follow between the headstones.
Watch left turns, I say, what you strike
could cause a meandering of old Quakers.
We are here to cut the woods back.
This place where we poke plastic flowers
and worry about the neglect of stone.
Trees have a way of leaning
into cemeteries, bowing condolences
in a simple language of light and shadow.
My son worries in reverse, backing between
faded names and cedars flexed as sin.
The chainsaw barks Thee and Thou quickly
and sharp as a whack from the dozing pole
once brought down on those who drifted
from silent prayer to sleep.
—Stephen R. Roberts (Hamilton County)
This poem is from Almost Music From Between Places (Chatter House Press, 2012) and originally appeared in Blueline.
Stephen R. Roberts lives on the outskirts of Westfield, Indiana, pretending it to be wilderness. He spends more time now with birds, trees, and poetry. He collects books, geodes, gargoyles, and various other obstacles that fit into his perceptions of a beautifully vibrant world. His full length work, Almost Music From Between Places, is published by Chatter House Press.
Poetry Prompt: Where Past and Present Meet
For this poetry prompt, you will need to visit a place seeped in history or recall one from memory. Describe your visit to this place and how the past and present brushed shoulders, collided, or missed each other completely. You may find it helpful to read some history about the place before you begin writing.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.