Poetry No. 48 – Tony Press

Colma Walk

We walked by the graveyard today
Father’s Day
And saw a group of five, sitting on the grass,
On blankets, and wrapped, too, in blankets, this breezy Sunday.
Each person sitting within three or four yards of the same tombstone

We continued walking
Father’s Day
The five appeared, though we could not say for certain
Appeared to be a family
Perhaps a mother and four children, two of them in their twenties,
Two younger

But perhaps not, perhaps a mother-grandmother, her child, her child’s spouse
And two children.
Or not, to be sure, for it could have been five friends, companions, aunts, uncles
We had no way to know, and no need
This Father’s Day

We walked on, reached the corner, debated quickly:
“Shall we do the whole path, or just go back toward the mountain?”
We chose the shorter way, turned around, and began the uphill route.
Except for the group of five, we had seen exactly two people, both groundskeepers,
—-(one raking, one driving a green cart), those two, plus six squirrels
—-Six squirrels and two large crows

Approaching the group, we saw them now standing, circling the grave
Standing and holding hands.
We could not yet hear, but wondered if they were praying, as we could
See lips moving, bodies swaying.
We kept walking – it’s what we do.

Closer still, we realized they were singing, singing quite well, in fact,
Without a boombox or any musical instrument, just their voices
Carrying down the slope toward our waiting ears
At first, we both thought we recognized the song, and whispered the title
To each other – the same title – but almost as quickly knew we were wrong

We did not know this song, our hearts told us, but we wanted to, so we sat,
Sat on a bench a mere twenty yards from the singers.
If they noticed us, they made no sign. They sang.
They sang, we listened. They sang, we marveled, and we wondered.
They sang, we listened, we held hands – held hands before we knew we were holding hands.

We had come to the cemetery to walk, to talk a little, to be by each other’s side
We had come this Father’s Day to remember our fathers.
We had come to this place
This place neither city nor country,
This place for the living
This place for the dead
This place like no other place,

This place no different from any other place.
All places the same place.

This place.
This Father’s Day.
This group singing this song
A song we did not know
Yet would never forget

A song we did not know
Yet would never forget


Tony Press writes fiction when he has questions and poetry when he thinks he has answers; thus, mostly fiction. Please read his short story collection, Crossing the Lines (Big Table), and his e-book of poems, Equinox and Solstice (Right Hand Pointing). He loves Oaxaca in Mexico, Bristol in England, and especially Brisbane in California.

© Tony Press

Photo Credit:  © Alena / Adobe Stock

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