The Beatrice Ravenel Prize
James B. Hudson
Monte Sano at Wheeler
The tombstones rest in groups and rows of sober white and gray.
Behind them gape the warehouse doors, all open to the square.
And from within: infernal din, as blasters cut away
The stone for words that now, disturbing, wake the passer’s care.
For when examined close at hand, to one thing I will swear:
Into each stone there has been cut: a name, a day, and year.
And yet, beneath there are no bones; not either fleshed nor bare,
Nor anything recalls the life etched in the stone so clear.
What awful thing could come like this between the stone and bier?
An only child could die, it’s true, or be laid off his trade:
So none to pay the quarryman and clear a debt so dear.
And craftsmen could have spoiled the stone, but none show errors made.
Unlikely anyone will trace the stories in these stones,
For things that mar a passing seldom travel far from home.