The Eponymous Survivor
The forgotten summer burns across
her graveyard mound, her footstone
displaced, moved to the side
where the gravediggers left it,
after drinking a pint, maybe two,
they must have talked about her,
why her grave was laid between two men.
Brothers no doubt, she married both
it seems they were veterans from the war,
one dying in forty-four, the other returned
with his own Purple Heart, found his brother’s wife,
picked up his life, what was left to salvage.
Can’t imagine it, the grief filling that house,
the two of them straining for love’s acceptance.
Love surely had bloomed in springtime
for a girl of twenty-one from a nearby farm,
after a short summer, the dying leaves of August
came too soon to Fisher’s hill, a clan they knew,
who owned the store near the tracks at Elko station
where regularly they met to argue over politics,
debate the crazy science of crop rotation
or who got the best price at the farmer’s market.
When the younger returned, grief forged the ring
to bind them, like the ripples of a love expanding
infinitely in their memory. Oh, the stories they told,
the secrets they shared, surely children raised
amazed to witness the patient fires of love
consuming the sweet bitterness of loss
to leave just one trace of fidelity.
Who will remember them, who will open the letters,
collect the black and grey photographs, the dust
settling upon their rare heroism? Do tell their story,
the compacted sacrifices all three made,
their careful embolization of the heart, lodged
like broken glass, scattered over a life undaunted,
and for eleven years she was their eponymous survivor.
For me writing is like fishing; a phrase or an image becomes the bait on the hook, I throw my line in with a heavy wait, let it sink to the bottom. Sometimes I may catch something, sometimes just trash.