A Poetry Sporadical of Repeating Forms

Burial Society

Pamela Starr

“Our grandparents’ graves need continual care,”
my cousin writes, “the stones are obscured
by an overgrown hedge.” Shouldn’t we cousins,
members of the Morris Family Society,
ensure that these two gravestones
in the Old Montefiore Cemetery

are properly maintained? The cemetery
charges three thousand for “perpetual care,”
and that’s per gravestone.
And trimming the hedge that obscures
the stones? That’s extra too. The elder Society
members thought it cost too much, but those cousins

passed away. Now it’s our turn. My cousins
renew the debate. They say the cemetery
is in public view. What would society
think of us and how we care
for our dead, with graves obscured
and left to ruin? No, the gravestones

must be preserved. After all, the stones
are all that’s left, all we cousins
know of our grandparents. The history’s obscure,
both of them dead before we were born, no care
for the poor back then. The cemetery
can’t even prove it’s them. Should Society

members (or any future Society)
have to worry about gravestones
in Brooklyn? My parents didn’t care
to have their bodies shipped, my cousins
are all dispersed, and anyway, the cemetery
filled up long ago with relatives obscure

to us, from a Russian village, obscure
then and vanished now. They created a Society
to bury their dead. Now the cemetery
is betting we’ll pay to clear the stones,
but I wonder who my cousins
think will notice. If no one visits, why should we care

what society says? I’m the cousin who doesn’t agree.
Say no to perpetual care. Tell the cemetery
it’s not just the hedge that obscures the stones.

Pamela Starr recently received her MA in Creative Writing from The University of Massachusetts at Boston. Among her poetry credits are Ballard Street Poetry Journal and GlassFire. Currents Magazine published a poem which received an honorable mention in the 2011 Seacoast Writers Association Contest. She lives in Sudbury, Massachusetts.


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