Bob Meszaros: “Mrs. Matilda May”

Mrs. Matilda May

1869—

Here, among the pockmarked tombstones
of the poor, below the sycamore that drapes
its ancient limbs across the graveyard sky,
(its thin bark peeling like old skin, day after
day, month after month, year after year)
the dirt lane’s wide enough for just one car.

Born in eighteen sixty-nine, the absence
of a final date keeps her mystery alive.

Childless? Forgotten? An old woman dying
in the house alone? Are her ashes mingling
with the ashes of some other man, or were
they caught by a gentle wind and carried
throughout the world, without end?

Here, where the sycamore bends and twists
its mottled limbs into the sky, above the neatly
chiseled letters of her name, before the heartwood
rots, I carve her initials in the living tree.
No need that death be writ in stone.

 

Bob Meszaros taught English at Hamden High School in Hamden, Connecticut, for thirty-two years. He retired from high school teaching in June of 1999. During the 70s and 80s his poems appeared in a number of literary journals, such as En Passant and Voices International. In the year 2000 he began teaching part time at Quinnipiac University, and he began once again to submit his work for publication. His poems have subsequently appeared in The Connecticut Review, Main Street Rag, Red Wheelbarrow, Tar River Poetry, Concho River Review, and many other literary journals.

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