Removals Man #DVersePoets #TuesdayPoetics

They hire him to take up gravestones

in old cemetery grounds.

Pay him by the hour,

to tease out lichen lost names,

note them,

in neat, thin rows of records

only his eyes will read,

and murmur each syllable

into the fresh split of dark soil

before the groundsman comes

with his sack of grass seed,

already whistling

to no one at all.

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12 Comments

  1. Oh–is this really a thing? I like to walk through all cemeteries and so often the names are worn off. . .death may be permanent, but not the gravestones.

    1. I’m not actually sure. I’ve been to graveyards where some of the older gravestones have been removed and plots have sometimes been reused after a certain length of time but I don’t know how common place it is.

  2. As a photographer, I’ve spent time in deserted overgrown cemeteries and melancholy grips me like a vise. Centuries have passed, Tombstones are crumbling. Loved ones are gone. There are no caretakers. All those faceless names call out for a semblance of recognition.

  3. Interesting to contemplate the men who do this kind of work. I love the whistling man coming with the grass seed!

  4. I hadn’t thought about this in a long while, Carol, but I’ve heard about it in London and seen it in some graveyards around Norfolk, where they line up old gravestones along the walls of churches and other buildings around the churchyard. I walk through one such churchyard most Monday and Friday lunchtimes, where I often stop to look at ‘lichen lost names’. I love the mournful lines:
    ‘…murmur each syllable
    into the fresh split of dark soil’
    and the wonderful and only touch of sound in:
    ‘already whistling
    to no one at all.’

  5. I like that he is whistling..with no particular audience, maybe. Walking through a church graveyard is interesting. I’ve read headstones for whole families that even include children. And the ripe old age of the adults was in their 30s.

    Pat

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