Each year we plod through spring rain
or dry heat, step with care around new-broken
graves and fresh sod, nod to marbled pride,
generations with the same names as those
still alive back in town. We carefully poke
plastic roses into the ground and whisper
the ritual words. Red for the sister:
“It was her favorite color.” She died
when a drunk in a pickup smashed her red car.
Yellow for the father: “He was so cheerful.”
Except when his last years robbed him
of breath and speech. White for the stillborn
child, who wore the cord around his neck.
Sleeping in sacrificed wheat fields, these
are our loved ones: decades of harvested crops,
bread turned to stone, alone and blind
to these witnesses, scarved heads bowed.
Out here on the prairie, the wind never stops.
— Maril Crabtree
From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)
Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).