Janice L. Sullivan
VISITING PINEWOOD CEMETERY
After hurricane Floyd shook
North Carolina like a cougar
worried its prey, I drove east
fearing my mother’s newly buried
casket was floating in the Tar River.
At the cemetery, I sloshed
through sand and murky water,
read family markers: Hardee, Tripp
Boyd, Wilkinson and Clark.
Nearby, a live oak housed
a colony of lampblack crows.
Their cawing scratched
the calm September morning.
A bronze marker, uprooted,
leaned against an oak, a stair step.
In the middle of the cemetery,
remnants of magnolia silk flowers
lay at the foot of my parents’ grave.
I called their names louder and louder.
For a moment, I sensed their presence
as I stood there in the graveyard.
Author’s Comments: I am always listening for a story that might become some part of my next poem. When Hurricane Floyd hit eastern North Carolina, a friend of mine told me that she was anxious to drive to her home town where her father had recently been buried. Her fear was that since his grave was freshly dug and then covered, that her father’s casket might end up floating in the flooded area where he was buried, near the Tar River. I sensed that this story might evolve into a new story through the birth of a poem.
This brought me back to my grandmother’s story of a flood in Texas: cemetery ripped up, caskets floating and cracked open. “After hurricane Floyd shook North Carolina like a cougar” is such a great line, and I loved the listing of names on the stones. Nice job.