Burning Paper at Lazarus Cemetery
The woman who works in the cemetery in her blue smock
bends to pick a scrap of paper from the earth
and drop it in the barrel as a god would drop
a bird into a sputtering volcano. A white smoke
rises and disappears. All around her,
crosses are popping up like crooked weeds.
Listen to the little river swish
along the walls of the canal. Nearby, a fresh grave
is plump with flowers, a mound like a dozen girls
fainted in their ruffled party skirts. What better place
to be set into the ground? The trees
lower long necks to the water, their many flat faces
nodding at their own reflections. The woman bends.
Another bird is lit afire.
Listen to Cynthia Marie Hoffman reading her poem at Civitella: