A tiger stalks the cemetery.
He sniffs the stones, orange lichen
encroaching like ripples in water that
do not disappear but marl the granite
in a vivid quilt of living-on.
A radio buzzes in a distant house;
puzzled gentlemen are arguing over
what to call the Zeitgeist.
The acronyms are rude, the monikers
clumsy or just plain incorrect.
One says: “The whole idea is to
catch what’s real for us right now
and make a home for it inside a name.”
The tiger spies a grasshopper
springing between Josaiah Phipps
(May His Soul Rest In Peace Evermore)
and Mary McStephens (Beloved; Gone
But Certainly Not Forgotten).
A cub again, eyes sharp and green,
he tenses and pins the insect flat
against the grass with a paw as broad
as a china plate.
But his paw is too wide, the claws
set so far apart that when he tilts it
and splays them, the grasshopper
leaps off to land on Isobal Mulligan’s
The tiger loses interest and skulks off;
the sound of the radio scrambles on, their
Fifty souls whose names have been
effaced by rain and wind
turn their faces and listen to
the grasshopper rustle away,
and they smiling at the sound
receding into oblivion