For my cousin Pete Patterson
There was a standpipe
On the highest rise,
Above my Grandma’s house.
And to the west, a cemetery
Always neatly shorn
Forbidding to a child born from its ceremony.
It was a maze of polished granite
And of mounds
The length and shape of bodies
And all about, the smell of rotting flowers.
There was nothing there that could be trod upon
Though once a year, we Baptists made
A pilgrimage to decorate
And dump the putrid water from the vessels by the stones.
The Catholics were not there, my Mother said.
They had their own hill above a fen
Outside the town where guileless cicadas sang and crows
And Irish bachelors lay in straight flat rows
Beside the matriarch and spinster kin.
“Where Grandma Pat will go,” my Mother said.
Below the standpipe was a gentle slope of grass
Where cousins played with balls and bats
And dogs could run without a leash.