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Decoration Day

On Decoration Day the folks
would gather to chop weeds and vines
and trim the brush around the edge
of burial ground, set tombstones straight
and burn a wasp or hornet nest,
eat dinner on the ground and tell
again the stories of those now
below the earth. It was a time
of fellowship, renewing ties
with close and distant kin, to show
respect for those who came before.
One special task was filling graves
sunk in, and also heaping dirt
on all the graves, re-mounding them
in ritual symbolic of
exhuming and reburial,
cementing bonds between the living
and those gone on, with sweat and gift
of fresher clay and coat of white
crushed stones as bright as heaven's salt.

Robert Morgan

The Georgia Review

Spring 2012

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