“At the Cemetery” by Greg McBryde


Two men, suited black
and broad:  Their shoulders
buckle.  Their arms and hands

scissor up then down along
the back of each, slow
as the priest’s blessing hand,

like wounded butterflies
joined in air, one right-,
one left-winged.  Their hands

carve and crush terrain
along the ridge, the bone,
the hump of human time:

the shoulder cracked
by a pitch in ’48,
the Korean bullet,

its knot between ribs,
the hard bend his wife
hammered on him

that day she died.



Greg McBryde‘s poems, essays, and reviews appear in 32 Poems, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Connecticut Review, Folio, Gettysburg Review, Hollins Critic, Poet Lore, and elsewhere.  His work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2005 and 2006. A former member of the Senior Executive Service at the U.S. Department of Transportation, he practiced law for 30 years and now edits The
Innisfree Poetry Journal, consults on transportation issues, and works as a freelance editor. He was a high school and college wrestler and an Army photographer in the Vietnam War. The father of three and grandfather of four, he lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife Lois, also a writer.

“At the Cemetery” first appeared in Poet Lore