Gayle Ledbetter Newby, four poems

Family Plot

The house was something of a mystery ,

tall, elegantly shaded, amidst dogtrots and shanties,

the sky so slowly covering the

silvered roof, like an aura,or perhaps a caul.

No one had lived there for years; windows boarded tightly.

Still the lawn was mowed neatly by a small bespeckled man

who never spoke to us, never looked beyond

his rusted and famished tools,

endlessly plodding, manicuring our genteel friend.

We walked one day behind the avenue of wild plums, profusely grown,

down a leaden road channeled with saw weed,

brambles pulling at our summer jeans,

brittle rust bearing our feet and scraped arms,

till we came to an angels plot;

bit of green England in hill country hollows.

We had heard of England, vaguely.

But there it lay, a small grave plot, surrounded by lambs and cool stream breath.

Five little graves marked with stone angels, cherubs,

one a small picture dressed in finest Sunday clothes;

Died of Spanish Influenza, 1919. Bloomed on Earth to Flower in Heaven.

We walked home, silently, past the grieving house,

filtering in our young minds, beauty, and decay and

that which is lovely and that which is not.

Summer Revival

After Mencken

We climbed that Jacob’s ladder every time,

higher and higher into the holy of holies,