Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

He walked with me around the grounds,
expecting me to give away”
by how I sighed at this, or shrugged
at that”what I might spend, today ,
to buy a proper burial plot
in his North Derry cemetery.
We ended up out in the field
where all the new graves were arranged
in cul-de-sacs and perfect lines
like fresh suburban sub-divisions.

“I see you’re no fan of the heat”
the sun just pounds this open spot.
For just a little more I’ve got
a space under those maple trees,
the older ones along the lane.”

I saw what he was pointing at,
admired how the narrow path
wound crookedly along the cool
edge of the woods. I thought of how
there would be colors in the fall
and how the big trees neatly framed
the little view of Uncanoonuc
I’d always have across the way”
a sight a visitor might like.

“It really isn’t that much more.
There’s only one or two plots left.”

I felt the sweat run down my brow,
looked at the summer sky and knew
whatever extra price I paid,
I’d rest more comfortably in shade.