A second taste on Rich Villar’s poetry: “Headstones” is an elegy for my sister and the boys and girls that my family and I found buried alongside her, too young, at a cemetery in New Jersey in 2007.
East Ridgelawn Cemetery
Passaic, New Jersey, April 2007.
Pop is reading headstones.
Catechism rises in him
from somewhere long buried.
The litany of saints inside his cheek:
Jorge Antonio González. Marisol Vélez.
He stops and reads
one black slab adorned
with the Dominican flag.
Angel Luis Gutierrez. 1987-2006.
He says it out loud: nineteen.
Something says to mark this.
His exhale is five hundred years.
We came to mark the anniversary
of my sister’s death. Lillies, a white planter.
A tulip bulb. Ten smooth stones in a circle.
Now we stand on freshly turned earth, reciting
the names of boys and girls who should be home,
home. Right now, tasting soup,eyes closing at the sudden sun,
or remembering last night’s kissed lips,
running and not running, making a mess.
Three grandchildren make noise in the cemetery.
We leave stones to mark our presence.
A groundskeeper waits to clear them away.
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