Poetry

A Poem for All Hallows’ Eve: “South Miami’s Oldest Cemetery”

 

 

South Miami’s Oldest Cemetery

I.

Those old, twisted digits–

indexes and thumbs

of fate–the branches of banyas swing

with wisdom, delineating

the designs of the day.

The wind convolutes

their viridescent leaves

into a conspiracy

of blades, slicing

the fresh, directionless air

into an open road,

and I know where to go.

 

 

II.

These roadside centenarian

crones knuckle their bones

in an eternal embrace.

They have no shame,

revealing their age

in brown spots–

the homes of wild orchids, nests

and mosses–

or the lovers’ names

etched in forever wood,

spelling the way

with some secret knowledge:

a witchery, something seen but forgotten.

 

III.

Their foliaged fingers

undulate like hula skirts

or goth kids in smoke,

down millionaire rows

of American green

towards a black sign

with a large white right arrow

pointing left

and letters that read:

PINEWOOD CEMETERY.

Among pristine, picture perfect

landscaping– top-dollar-topiaries,

leagues of ivy crawling,

and slick, barbered hedgerows–

lies Miami’s oldest burial grounds

deeded in 1897 for 10 dollars.

Time inflates currency like fattened birds,

and weighs them  down in higher flights.

Time is a form of gravity like death.

According to a sign at the entrance,

the graveyard is also one

of oldest historical sites in Coral Gables,

commemorating pioneers (many unidentified)

from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Pioneer Day is held there each year to honor the buried.

There are the pioneers of death,

the stillborn, the misbegotten, those who died without living:

BABY GIRL

PATRICK

1927-1927

BABY GIRL             BABY BOY

BROWN                    SCOTT

1923-1923                1928-1928

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

MARGARET MOYER

STILLBORN NOV. 30, 1924

7TH CHILD OF ST PIERRE AND JULIA

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

DELIA (BLYTHE)

BRANAM

AND INFANT

DECEMBER 4, 1890

AUGUST 26, 1908

WIFE OF RL BRANAM

BOTH DIED DURING

CHILDBIRTH

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

STILLBORN BOY DIED

3/30/1934.

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

BARDT TILLMAN

BURIED TWIN BABIES

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

 BARRS

TWO YEAR OLD CHILD

OF HENRY AND MERIAL BARRS

OF DIPTHERIA

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

ROBERTS, MARY LOUISE

(1908-1908)

DAUGHTER OF GEORGE AND CATHERINE

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

RAULERSON, LILLIAN EVA

16 (DROWNED)

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

A MOTHER OF EIGHT

WITH NINTH CHILD-

BOTH DEAD DURING LABOR

SWEETING

A YOUNG BOY BURIED  ca 1934.

WELLBURN R. BARNETT

dec 12. 1912

may 24. 1913

DIED 5 MO. 12 DAYS OF AGE

✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜✜

PATRICK,

A WEEK OLD BABY GIRL

DIED 1927

 

I am a pioneer of soliloquies,

and their randomness haunts me

because it is meaningless,

meaningless like premature death.

I have been unidentified.

 

IV.

In the late 1980s,

the Pinewood Cemetery Restoration Fund

described their goal:

to return the cemetery as much as possible to its original state – to create a place where school children will come on field trips to study history, birds and plant life, and where adults can stroll in a tranquil setting, pausing to reflect on times past.

I wondered if these deaths had ruined these lives

or ignited in them a fierce joy de vivre

from the knowledge

that everything could end tomorrow.

Rich or poor, no one escapes what lies

beneath the cemetery gates.

Over their graves now

are the paper-thin remnants

of a tree’s rude persistence,

reverberating, reminding us

of life’s impermanence,

in broken, restless rustles.

 

 

 

 

By Monica Torres from Moon Over Miami

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