Keeping the Ground
At the New Jewish Cemetery, he cuts the grass,
tends trees, wears a baseball cap
backward, the sun gets hot under the maples and poplars.
He smokes a Sparta, uses a wheelbarrow
or a motorized cart when there is lots of grass.
He drives along the path, past Leopold Pick 1866-1928,
Adolf Schulz 1867-1938. Does he think, how lucky
these people were, long lives, no torture?
He passes the 1950s, the 60s, the 70s.
He passes the 80s, he passes the 90s. People are still dying.
Anna Antonova 1908-2001.
Even a grave ready for Eva Povoridrova born 1943.
Does he worry whether the cemetery will fill up?
At the east end, the stones lean off,
tired, near the ground, covered in ivy.
An impenetrable word peeks through.
Olga Camperlikova 1878-1942 Oswiecim
Erich Schild 1930-1944 Oswiecim
and Ida Mermelsteinova's daughter Juditha -- Oswiecim
And there his task ends, a pile of grass by the wall, brick
and peeling. He pours the new cuttings over the old
though he knows compacted living material combusts.
When archeologists dig up these graves, what will they think
of the word -- a disease perhaps -- stamped
on the stones of the young and the old?
When they discover a handful of ashes,
will they say the grass exploded, a careless groundskeeper
thinking of his girlfriend, not the people
as they come and they go
NOTE: “Oswiecim” is the Polish name for Auschwitz