Maybe because I was married and felt secure and dead
at once, I listened to my father’s urgings about “the future”
and bought this double plot on the hillside with a view
of the bare white church, the old elms, and the creek below.
I plan now to use both plots, luxuriantly spreading out
in the middle of a big double bed. —But no,
finally, my burial has nothing to do with marriage, this lying here
in these same bones will be as real as anything I can imagine
for who I’ll be then, as real as anything undergone, going back
and forth to “the world” out there, and here to this one spot
on earth I really know. Once I came in fast and low
in a little plane and when I looked down at the church,
the trees I’ve felt with my hands, the neighbors’ houses
and the family farm, and I saw how tiny what I loved or knew was,
it was like my children going on with their plans and griefs
at a distance and nothing I could do about it. But I wanted
to reach down and pat it, while letting it know
I wouldn’t interfere for the world, the world being
everything this isn’t, this unknown buried in the known.
Irene McKinney, “Visiting My Gravesite: Talbott Churchyard, West Virginia” from Unthinkable: Selected Poems 1976-2004. Copyright © 2009 by Irene McKinney. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.
Source: Unthinkable: Selected Poems 1976-2004
(Red Hen Press, 2009)