Poem of the Fortnight: In Lakeview Cemetery

In memory of my brother, Tony Wiggins, who died on this date 13 years ago:

In Lakeview Cemetery

A sanctuary of trees and flowers,

burial place of James Garfield and John D. Rockefeller,

once, up high, you could see Lake Erie

before the city grew and blocked the view.


It is Father’s Day

Tony's grave

Tony’s grave

the day after my niece’s wedding.

Three middle-aged and two elderly women

are placing flowers from the wedding

on their men’s graves

(always the women are left behind).

Susan and Rose, the elders

tell us the stories of the graves.

I see, for the first time,

my brother’s smooth black granite stone.

Because my brother had the good sense

to marry into a large Italian family

despite our small, chilly English one

and our penchant for cremation,

I am spending my first Sunday placing flowers on graves

as these warm generous people welcome me:

the only member of my brother’s family to attend his daughter’s wedding.


That evening we eat pasta and drink red wine

in their favorite neighborhood restaurant:

my sister-in-law, her cousin and husband,

my nephew and his Parisian girlfriend

and I realize this is what family feels like.

Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio


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