This was first posted last year, and was inspired, in a way, by my late grandmother’s dedication to the family graves and how, as a small child, they seemed like such an adventure and expedition, with a ritual tidying of the grave and a milkshake on the way home.
The first and third Saturday are set in stone
And nothing may disturb them.
It is inviolable that she goes, through wind and weather
No let or hindrance permitted
First the train ride, then the bus,
Then the long walk up the wooded hill.
Dragging the flowers and the cleaning kit
Into the murmuring cemetery.
It is a ritual, disposing of the old flowers from the grave
The browned leaves and petals on the heap,
The washing of the neat urn on the grave
The snipping of the stems
The flowers renewed, she wipes the headstone,
Trims the edges, picks up the gravel
Waters the tiny alpines in the cracks
Brushes off the dead leaves.
Nothing stops the pilgrimage.
And once the grave is neatened, then she sits and reads
Perhaps in the shelter near the church
Perhaps on the stone seat near the tree
The first and third Saturday are hers, defended
And who could argue against tending to a grave.
Who’s grave? She doesn’t know but cares
Because they gave the gift
Of the first and third Saturday, unassailable.