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Mourners at Calverton National Cemetery
Dani Dymond

My gaze clung to phantoms:
the mother and son whose worn boots
and thin hats could not hide
the numb mask typical of cemetery patrons
in mid-January. A chipped stone
below winter’s blanket stared back at them,
hardly the father, husband, and fallen soldier
they remembered. His boy waved
hello, unaware of a mom’s watering eyes
as she twisted a ring on her finger.
Her child started working
on three slushy mounds, hurrying
them into a snowman no taller than he,
its shoulders sinking much like
the mother’s, leaning left as it offered
a half-hug to unfeeling granite,
stick arms scuffing rock ––
the sound shook me, urged birds
from the surrounding trees,
eavesdropping made easy when grief
is so blinding. I saw mom and boy share
a shiver of dead words with air.
Breezes guided the sagging body of ice
closer to a grave marker premature in its placing.
I imagine the frozen figure, tilted, collapsing,
might resemble the ground’s tenant
on the battlefield, far from home
when he passed; I imagine that the drips of frost,
melting into rivers across a sergeant’s title,
might mirror those tears shed in the name
of national sacrifice: I imagine
his ghost might love this companion.

Dani Dymond is a twenty-three-year-old college student majoring in English/Creative Writing and minoring in sleep deprivation. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Young Ravens Literary Review and Outrageous Fortune, online publications like BuckOff Magazine and The Bitchin’ Kitsch, and several university magazines. She is a feminist, vegetarian, activist, and obsessive dog mom. While she wishes poets were paid in licorice and Netflix subscriptions, her goal to finish an MFA at CSULB and someday teach writing at the college level while publishing her own work will wonderfully suffice.