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Poem: "Visiting My Gravesite: Talbott Churchyard, West Virginia"

Maybe because I was married and felt secure and dead
at once, I listened to my father’s urgings about “the future”

and bought this double plot on the hillside with a view
of the bare white church, tall old elms, and the creek below.

I plan now to use both plots, luxuriantly spreading out
in the middle of a big double bed.  – But no,

finally, my burial has nothing to do with my marriage, this lying here
in these same bones will be as real as anything I can imagine

for who I’ll be then, as real as anything undergone, going back 
and forth to “the world” out there, and here to this one spot

on earth I really know.  Once I came in fast and low
in a little plane and when I looked down at the church,

the trees I’ve felt with my hands, the neighbors’ houses
and the family farm, and I saw how tiny what I loved or knew was,

it was like my children going on with their plans and griefs
at a distance and nothing I could do about it.  But I wanted

to reach down and pat it, while letting it know
I wouldn’t interfere for the world, the world being

everything this isn’t, this unknown buried in the known.

Source: Irene McKinney, Six O’Clock Mine Report (1989).


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