A Year of Poems – Day 22

Written in Christ’s Church Alexandria

There are no plain people.
Only those who see this
and those whose eyes are closed.

There never were plain people
though their stones claim otherwise,
raising themselves as shrines
that tower above the “plain” stones below.
But read, if you can, their text.
Some have more space
but they sing the same song.

The flautist’s freezing fingers
play carols on the street.
The oil slick hands of painters
put music on the page.
The banker with his cell phone,
The whistler with his dog,
walk with a different purpose,
but are walking just the same.
Though I say they’re all the same
For this they really are,
since all will one day lie alike
with stones to mark their fall,
of the painter and the whistler
neither one is plain.

There is nothing more plain
than stone weathered over centuries.
The words which were chosen
and chiseled with care are gone.
The face of one headstone
is indistinguishable from its neighbor.
A few markers shaped as monuments
show the wealth of the dirt
buried deep down.
But even these have dissolved
drop by drop till the ripples
of a life settle into smooth stone.

I have been talking of stone
how all stones are alike in their plainness.
Let us consider the soul,
how all are alike,
yet none are plain.

“dorothy harper uxor of
john w harper departed
this life 3 sept 1800 after
an indisposion of 3
years & 5 months aged
42 years 8 months.”

This stone tells a plain
story of dates and endings
without even an upper case
to bring distinction to Dorothy.
Reflect on the length of 42 years,
or if you cannot, reflect on its half.
The flood of memories which
roll in and out of your waking mind.
Each tide bringing in new trinkets
from the sea of thoughts
which make you, you.
Each shell, locket, earring
and second grade hand print
and a thousand more forgotten
are your 40 years of existence.
We cannot imagine
who lies beneath that stone.

There were no plain people.
Only plain stones,
and those whose eyes are closed.

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