Friday, September 15, 2023

"Graveyard Blues" by Natasha Trethewey


It rained the whole time we were laying her down;
Rained from church to grave when we put her down.
The suck of mud at our feet was a hollow sound.

When the preacher called out I held up my hand;
When he called for a witness I raised my hand 
Death stops the body’s work, the soul’s a journeyman.

The sun came out when I turned to walk away,
Glared down on me as I turned and walked away 
My back to my mother, leaving her where she lay.

The road going home was pocked with holes,
That home-going road’s always full of holes;
Though we slow down, time’s wheel still rolls.

            I wander now among names of the dead:
            My mother’s name, stone pillow for my head.

Source of the text - Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, page 8.

TJB: In half-lines with timeless tropes, we hear the poem sung like the blues: burial of the mother as a pilgrimage, & the graveyard as a memory-house.

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