Trailing Her Die

David P. Miller

Tower Street, thirty degrees sharp.
Climb to Forest Hills Cemetery’s
side iron gate. Diagonal neighborhood:
funeral parlor roots the ascent’s first steps.
German shepherd, watches me, wary,
as her master phones in a ruptured pipe.
A home with two wooden emblems:
butterflies underscore Welcome,
sunburst adorns No Trespassing.
The street opens to stillness of pines,
unnamed puddingstone monuments.

Into the files of slabs and inscriptions,
I’m trailing her die. She an eminent
permanent resident, my map marks the route
to her family stone and all the way back.

No one is here. Scuff the new snow, track toward
Summit Avenue. The silence of near-arrival
replaced by traffic’s hiss. Winter’s first fall:
a slide and topple. I curse and mutter myself
to my feet, look for a tomb topped with detritus.
Her name surmounted with acorns, twigs.
Pheasant feather. Metal cufflink. Two red pebbles
with white paint mottoes: Communication
says one, the other effaced but for — r — .
Brown roses wrapped in cracked plastic
next to her footstone.

Return to the gate, past the chapel. I heard
a poet there eff her out loud, her suicide,
the horse she rode in on. Two more inattentive
collapses. Descending, the shepherd now placid,
her master holds palaver with a deliveryman.
At the busway, a step into Spanish palabras.
A girl carries a fragile collage,
six blue feathers and tissue,
across puddles and aboard to her seat.

For Anne Sexton