The Men Who Raised The Dead

If they had hair it was gray,
the backs of their hands wormy
currents of blue veins, old men
the undertaker believed
had already lost too much
to the earth to be bothered
by what they found, didn't find,
brought there that May afternoon
dogwood trees bloomed like white wreaths
across Jocassee's valley.

They took their time, sought the shade
when they tired, let cigarettes
and silence fill the minutes
until the undertaker
nodded at his watch, and they
worked again, the only sound
the rasp and shuck of shovels
as they settled deeper in graves
twice-dug, sounding for the thud
of struck wood not always found—
sometimes something other, silk
scarf or tie, buckle, button
nestled in some darker earth,
enough to give a name to.

One quit before they were done,
lay down as if death were now
too close to resist, and so
another stepped in his grave,
finished up, but not before
they shut his eyes, laid him with
all the others to be saved
if not from death, from water.

by Ron Rash

Comments (1)

it was a good poem and it made me think that they were at a cemetery or grave yard