Photography by Devon Butler

My grandmother pulls up a chair to his grave
After kissing each small effigy of his face, his saints
The crucifixes all mean something different
In the garden-like calm
Of a thousand bodies sleeping

Canon in D is out of place
But it’s playing low in the background
It’s walking me down the aisle
Where all the black plastic chairs are empty
And my mother is whispering on the marble
About the loss of my religion

The names and dates are all here
They’re mapping out lifetimes from one side of the dash to the other
They are missing all the information in between
Or maybe this is all I need to know

And the flowers are just pinpoints of colour
In amongst the roses and greys
I’m walking in between the head stones
And my grandmother is pointing and saying
And there lies my friend
And there lies my family
And there lies my grave
Waiting patiently for me
And patience is the name of the game
You have to try and go gracefully
From conception
To the beauty of the black

And the epitaphs are foreign
In more ways than one
Some in Italian, some in Polish
But they’re wishing every man woman and child
The very best
Wherever it may be
That they have gone

And I’ve lost something else today
That I wasn’t missing yet yesterday
I’ll just wait calmly for the enormity to hit
For the last dam to break
While my grandmother sits and prays
In that high backed chair
For her children and her grandchildren
And these souls in their little dens
I am a little lost
I am gathering my religion
I am gathering my breaths
Shard by shard

And the dash they have inscribed on the plaques
Means more
Than all the names of the very dear to me
And all the birthdays
I, or anyone else has ever celebrated
And all the funerals I have ever sat through
With a skirt that hits below the knee
In my entire life

Twenty seems like a long walk
When I finally stand still.