The Cemetery Gardeners

By on Jan 17, 2021 in Poetry

Cherry trees in cemetery

Last Friday noon we planted cherry trees in the town
On a moist lawn for those lost limbs and foundered souls of war.
We laid them round, our cherry trees, heeling soon in place
By the gate, like green apostles bound in burlap robes.

And then with usual care, we champed the sodden earth—
Heaving clay, until a stiff procession of barreled steel
Passed by; or rather, a big new funeral play complete
With chaplain chiming Latin; or come to think, was it Greek?

Then boomed three salvos sounding like spit’n damnation.
We rested blades and stared as brassy music blared
Up and filled the vacuum sky real neat for us liv’n souls.
Foreman said, “You boys dig deep, ya hear? Put ‘em down real deep!”

Its mass complete, the town now wandered by these graves too
Confused. Some waved, some frowned, one cried (one stayed behind).
And those cherries lie like death in a wet bed of grass for whom?
We piled spades, then sat there and sipped a coffee gloom.


Trained in landscape architecture and English literature, the poet considers himself to be a stranger; an “existential outsider,” one might say, concerned with perception and imagination—usually vis-à-vis nature. Poems are crafted with attention to strong lyrical sound, often revealing subtle philosophical questions, generally in matters of reality, sometimes imbued with skepticism but just as often speculation. J. Novalis Wolfe resides in Hereford, Arizona, near the Huachucan Sky Island Mountains.

One Comment

  1. Thank you. I accept the editing.