Old Baptist Cemetery
It is what leaves us that proves we are living—
the breath, birds, a dark strand of hair.
It is the power of flight, the turning away
that tells us we are here, solid beneath sky.
Or solid enough to see the one slow opening
that sits like an unnamed bird,
the one the artist could never get right
always half in, half out of the picture.
It is like the line between weather and cessation,
the rain falling here and not there,
or these seagulls, 90 miles from shoreline,
flocking to graves of Old Baptist Cemetery:
Hannah, d. 1784, consort of Henry;
John, who drowned in the river at 19;
William, perished of smallpox in 1797;
Ana, our blessed child, dead by age 1.
It is the mirror we paint ourselves onto—
sandstone angels, the blue‐blue sky,
weeping willows bent gently to the east,
the stories that enter us, the departed.
Mill Closing 1904
This last goodbye: a cursory nod, the door
on its antique hinges closing softly but with heft,
the change in light after something never fully
articulated dies. The faded flowers, the little
crusts of their leaves composting silently,
two cups of water poured down a drain.
I wonder: Was the last closing like this?
The sun spread evenly across the street
as the last worker descended the steps?
Did the market girls wince as the men
in long gray coats brushed silently passed
so long before the bell?
I imagine when you left it was like this:
A bend of river in spring, the fish struggling
north, a blur of water meeting them
one by one, the brittle certainty of something
known but not felt, and the unrelenting
light pushing you on.
MELINDA THOMAS is a graduate of the MFA program at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a concentration in Poetry. She has studied extensively with Dara Weir and James Tate, and also studied in in Ireland with Eaven Boland.