Winthrop Cemetery
Austin Segrest

Winthrop Cemetery

The cemetery was on a hill—no,
was a hill unto itself. Then I decided
maybe it was a dune.
The stones were tall and thin,
many unreadable,
not that I was giving it much of a try.
On one, the façade had cracked off,
all but a corner. On another,
moss grew in the etching
like an anaesthetized tongue.
Apparently, someone in the 18th century
established the trend of marking their ages
down to the day. There was a tricentennial
plaque for four Pilgrim kids
who drowned: Hannah, James . . . I can’t remember.
Their names sounded good together.
There were many stones for drownings.
Vague, needle-matted, the trail
wound and bumped around haphazardly.
A little graveyard on a little hill.
What can you do when you live on sand,
I thought. Your little hill will rove,
carrying the dead around inside it.
But then I noticed the pine trees
everywhere, their antic green
crawling with cones.
Pitch pines, I read, hardly grow
after ninety years—
wind-pruned, bent
like Akhmatova’s nose.

Austin Segrest

is a 2018-2019 poetry fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.