by Molly Meyer
We will have to get down on all fours and eat the grasses
of the cemeteries forever—Federico García Lorca
John Gray’s feverish psalms
could not save his wife and child. Or himself.
The Bureau of Child Hygiene left the weakest ones
on the sidewalk, made it easier for the garbage collectors.
No more caskets at Covington’s funeral parlor.
Fortunately, the Grays pre-paid, ended up side-by-side-by-side.
Laid to unrest in Monument Cemetery, garden of dust.
Only God and the gravedigger attended services.
The city condemns Monument Cemetery,
sends letters to 28,000 families. Pick up your bones.
Grandchildren don’t care much about skulls and teeth.
Neither does Temple University.
Commuter students need parking spaces.
But what to do about all those mumbling mandibles?
The backhoe scoops up the remains of the Grays,
dumps them in an unmarked plot. Emily’s right fibula
caresses John’s left clavicle. Little Sarah’s sacrum rests
in child’s pose. John and Sarah’s headstones go missing,
probably crushed under Lot C, parking spaces reserved
for night owls with hang-tags.
Emily’s headstone lies upside down
under the Betsy Ross Bridge. Temple sold her
for granite rip-rap, reinforcement to armor the shore line.
At low tide, 20,000 chiseled stones watch students cross
from Jersey to Philly and back again. Most commuters
don’t know the bridge to higher earning rests on mislaid souls.
Only the Delaware comforts the dead, gently laps
over birthdates and epitaphs, tries to wash away greed.