National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona
Kim Matthews Wheaton
Cliffs Along the Columbia
National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona January 2002
At graveside, a lone bagpipe
sings mourning into the desert air.
I wonder that amazing grace can be found here
where your coffin lies under a leaden sky. Too late
I realize I forgot to bring flowers. Somewhere
it must be common knowledge
that the divorced bring flowers, still,
to help bury the once-beloved.
When the color guard doesn't show--
so many vets dying every week,
services overbooked (we learn later)--
I'm the one who stands, who gives
an improvised eulogy, words
that drift over flesh-colored sand,
into the musk of crushed sage.
How many leavings were there between us?
First trust, then spirit, finally, body.
Yucca and ocotillos stand among the flat markers of dead.
I feel the barren sun on my face.
And is that you in the wind,
haunting even my hair?