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In the silence of the cemetery we read the stubs of stone.
Your names out-stare the sunset. You hold the heart of this hill.
You are in the roots of the cedars, the tall few
whole branches ride like stormclouds
before the burning sky.

This land, your bones,
have been broken for our bread--
will we now break the sky?
And let it come burning across the fields,
to blacken your names to ashes
and our lives to stones
with no shadows?

The sacrifice of plastic flowers
laid before you
stiffens. The steps that left them
have taken away your dust,
your reminder,
our promise--
that the grass at your graveside will tickle our grandchildren's toes.

Amy Beth Cross was a member of the Catholic Worker Community in Davenport, Iowa when this poem appeared.

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