A journal of narrative writing.
Beneath the Stones

July 12, 1907. A group of mourners gather

in the small cemetery behind McPherson Church.

Lillie, mother of the dead child, weeps behind

a cotton veil too heavy for the unseasonable heat.

Edgar, only 24, hangs back, unprepared for his own


shameful tears. He grips a knotted handkerchief

in his sweaty hands, listens to the minister eulogize

his daughter and then close with a prayer.

Afterwards, the crowd members take turns-

a single shovel-full each.


I hear the scatter of sandy soil against

rough pine as I stand 85 years later,

speaking the names of the dead,

inventing a memory by the cluster of graves

this autumn evening, waiting for my own child


to finish soccer practice in an adjoining field.

By September, the family will lose another

child, return to this same ground to bury a son.

And ten years later, in August of 1917-

as our nation rushes to fight the war


to end all wars-Lillie and Edgar, now

in their mid-thirties, will never be blessed

or cursed with childbirth again, living out

their passions, carrying the burden of their

unforgotten children as though relentlessly

pregnant with them. What small smooth stones

they leave. Cut from granite, these names

and dates seem as rooted as the towering maples

above; sun and shade dance on these small plots,

leave unclear their faded designs.