Walking in the graveyard
behind the church on late summer afternoons,
you could hear the choir practice in the distance,
an accompanist banging out the chords
of Bringing in the Sheaves on the Baldwin,
the voices old & ragged but blending nicely,
floating out across the cemetery like a fog.
Sometimes you’d find the old sexton
sitting under the mimosa tree mopping his brow.
It’s our job to keep this place up for eternity, he’d say,
as if to remind himself.

You’d check in on your brother, younger than you
but still long gone, your uncle who survived Normandy
but not the cancer. Your friend from high school
dead of AIDS though no one mentions it.
Another friend from drugs, same thing.
What would they say when you ended up here?
Didn’t matter. There’d be so much else to listen for:
the faint sizzle of the sun as it sinks behind the horizon,
the whisper of mimosa blooms floating down
like parachutes on a beach, & in the air
everywhere, all that harvesting & reaping & rejoicing,
all those sheaves.