We paddle down the shore, along the bay
The rocks beside us - black and rose and gray,
Lichens bold, tattooed upon their sides,
Vestments bright, that yearly multiply.
The ice, sharp candles, with our paddles breaks,
Loons swim ahead, we follow in their wake,
Two dark sleek heads point onward, mark our path,
Their echoed calls seem mournful as they laugh.
Destination reached, we moor the boat,
To a twisted tree, leave it to float,
No waves to send it crashing on the shore,
We tramp uphill, through tea of Labrador.
Mosquitoes rise in the clouds, no incense here,
Whisper, it's been long since we've come near
To this lonesome graveyard long forgot,
Where weathered, tilted crosses yield to rot.
Forgotten graves, markers lean drunkenly,
Can scarce be seen amid the waves of green,
Dwarf willows reaching, tangle, slow our pace,
Though reverent movement seems right in this place.
The velvet barrow moss is deep and wide
A fitting cradle where the dead abide,
The spruces vaulted round them bow their heads,
In homage to these few eternal beds.
I wonder as we paddle back t'ward home
Whose loved ones lie beneath the mossy loam,
Do they visit still, or have they all
Faded out of time, beyond recall?
Looking back, the graveyard can't be seen,
It hides from view, within a swell of green,
Markers and crosses blurring, blending in,
No telling where one ends, or one begins.
~ Jen Atkin