The 2River View 22.3 (Spring 2018)

Bill Freedman

The Hair of Graves

A child said, What is the grass?
fetching it to me with full hands;

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
(Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass)

Her plaque lies flat,
her name and years of passing through
obscured by weeds and grass
as she is.
Nothing stands
to call to passers-by or catch an eye.
One would trip or trod on her
to find her, or kneel
and part the tangled hair
to imagine hers, at six
or twelve or seventeen,
when her mother brushed it back
and tugged when something caught
and said, “Hold still,”
but did not mean like this.

The News

The phone rang at 2 a.m.
I could not sleep.
In the morning I saw them,
the familiar trio,
two in uniform,
inching up the walk.
Heard them knocking softly,
firmly, advising me to sit,
asking someone to bring water.
Their faces fraught,
their voices trained and factual,
They informed me, again,
of the death of someone far away
I’d never known.
I thanked them,
showed them out and
tried to sleep.
The phone.

Bill Freedman is a retired professor of English Literature and a scholar of modern literature and the history of baseball fans. His poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, The California Quarterly, The Iowa Review, The Nation, The Quarterly, Rattle, Shenandoah, and elsewhere.

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