The Open Shed by Mark Belair

With its double doors
swung wide and its mower
rolled out and parked beside bags of
spring grass seed, the open cemetery shed

makes each grave
seem yet more sealed, more
weighted down by the hard ground,
the gardener’s ministrations to the earth’s mere surface

exposed, those deep below
tended only by the natural force—
cleansing as wind on the headstones—
of handed-down remembrances until the dead

are swept of
all particulars except their
role with regard to the living, so become
blank and beautiful, icons of generational endurance,

each clan—when gathered
for a new, troubling internment—
peering close to an old stone for the solace
that rises from the polished monument buried below.

ramshackle cottage in old cemetery
Some Old Gravestones Near the Caretakers House by Terry McCombs. CC license.

Mark Belair
Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Harvard Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review. He is the author of seven collections of poems and two works of fiction: Stonehaven (Turning Point, 2020) and its sequel, Edgewood (Turning Point, 2022). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times, as well as for a Best of the Net Award. Please visit for more of his work.

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