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Ode to a Cemetery on All Souls Day

October 29, 2009 









By Kenneth DiMaggio

Was for the rest
of America
but the candles
lit up before
the cemetery
was our immigrant
but honest
for which
your kerchief-headed
cleaned off
the grave
of a father
or sister
and then lit before it
a flame
that we
the delinquent grandchildren

would later pause
and mock
and tell gory
tales before
but never blow out
superstitious enough
to believe

And that is why we were privileged
to walk with ghosts like
who sold fake
patented medicine
door to tenement
door during the Great

or the great Aunt
who could not tell me
in English
but who could convey
through what were
dying fingers
not to be afraid
of the flame
before her name

We never had enough courage
to stay the full night
with 10-cent candles
to the morning

it would not be possible
to know anything more
about the world
of your ancestors

except the marble
that had a name
like the one
that twinned with half
of your cousins
and uncles

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