I watched you criss-cross, curiously, cautiously
our graves, dark spaces between footsteps
the quick and the dead on a churchyard’s
chessboard. What drew you to shadows
on such a summery day in May? After all
we all belong to last century and long before.
Your hand sometimes brushed the stones,
feeling moss, a broken edge, old ivy trails gone brown.
Under the rookery you found two full-fledged lives
still as the millpond. Checked if they were warm
and then across you came, to the boundary wall
to stop by me:
The Dearly Beloved Daughter Of
John & Sarah Ann Beet
who died December 11th 1896
aged 28 years
Also John Beet who passed away
June 3rd 1909 aged 79 years
and Sarah Ann Beet, wife of the above
who passed away March 10th 1915
aged 79 years
It was your name; those dual sounds
so clear and bold that could be rolled
into poetry. And the headstone’s floral scroll
too drew my imaginings, till you appeared
like a photograph, slowly, surely,
out of the dark room.
Restive all of 28 years, did you find rest in peace
pressed beneath parents, interred before them
the firstborn Adam never conceived? They made
you as ornament instead, after the Hebrew
adorned with dark brown hair, hung loose
hiding the birthmark that marked you out,
a wanderer like Cain, sketchpad and verse
to hand. Woolgathering a wayward way
on the arms of artists and a Sergeant Stenton
kept childless then widowed by the Duke.
I wonder if you died poorer, paradoxically
perhaps of a Yorkshire woolsorter’s disorder?
Or of a broken heart, of shame?
Certainly a prodigal brought back to abide
eternally, as dearly beloved daughter.
– Ada from the Hebrew Adah. עָדָה, meaning adornment or ornament. The first female name in Genesis after Eve. Adam is first man.
– The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment – South Yorkshire.
– Woolgathering – To engage in fanciful daydreaming
– Woolsorter’s disease is anthrax from contact with the raw hides of infected animals including alpaca, camel and sheep.
For my Poetics prompt, we are reconstituting a deceased person, one that is unknown to us, neither family nor famous. By way of poetic resurrection, we bring them Back to Life