By: Jennifer Stewart Miller
Anna, in this burial ground brimming
with imposing stones, your slate—
not much bigger than an iPad—
catches my eye: lunar gray, topped
with a winged death’s head the size
of a Barbie’s skull—writ so small,
the fearsome jaw and glare
diminished. By your side,
your parents, Susanah and John.
I didn’t come here for you.
But I look you up—the miracles
of search engines—and see I’m
descended from your brother, Lot.
So long ago, but maybe we share
a gene or two.
Sharks and jellyfish may outlast us,
and someday the stars will drift apart
and the earth go shudderingly colder
than the January day you died. Still,
I honor this desire to speak the names
of even the smallest dead—
to acknowledge your gravity, Anna.
No Ozymandias, you, no King of Kings—
But as the details chiseled on your slate insist,
you were here, and you were loved—
It’s spring—sky blue, a warm breeze.
A red-winged blackbird sings hard for a mate
in a patch of wetland near the church. Spring,
which you never lived to see—
today your name flutters like a jarred
butterfly in my skull, Anna Gray.
Jennifer Stewart Miller holds an MFA from Bennington College and a JD from Columbia University. She’s the author of A Fox Appears: A Biography of a Boy in Haiku (2015), and her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart and appeared in Green Mountains Review, Harpur Palate, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, and other journals. Her chapbook The Strangers Burial Ground is forthcoming in Fall 2019 from Seven Kitchens Press.