Freelove, Discarnate

by Mark Wunderlich

Mark Wunderlich

Under a mantle of snow,
under moss, sand and gravel,
under roots and schist, five feet of thin soil,
under the sanded pine boards of an undersized coffin,
under lace, under linen, shift poked with eyelets,
under a curtain of hair tied up for the afterlife,
cap stitched by sore fingers of a sister
under powdery skin, bone softened by acid,
blood gone black as the water dried away,
lies the desiccated heart of Freelove Hancox
who perished some time two centuries ago.
Her remaining purchase on the world of the living
is this headstone, dateless, spackled with lichen,
wheeled over by gulls, those persistent omnivores,
prayed over by windblown in off the bay.
What lies beneath this minimal marker?
What lingers in the folds of her funerary dress?
No secret note folded in a reticule,
mourning ring lost under an auction house floor?
The truth of you is chiseled into stone—
not my fantasy of your costume, but a name
once spoken over your infant head
presiding now over six feet of ground, which I find one morning
pushing past the gate wrought by a blacksmith,
set with care into a wall of granite
here in a cemetery in Stonington, Connecticut.

Last updated October 20, 2022