Shelter Island Quaker Monument

Shelter Island Quaker Monument

Memory pours through the granite slab
chanting broken bodies
sinking into dreams and cave-like doors,
tidal salt-water inlets filling up

with blue crabs, gone bottoms-up
smelling decay, rotting claws on the beaches
writing sandy letters inscrutable.
Torn nails and fingers in moistened dirt,

those finely etched inscriptions
Winds and rains washed
nearly every name like
letters in ancient illuminated books.

trowel-in-hand, watery half-gallons,
potting soil pushed down around rose stalks
surrounding the hard monument,
fingers pricked by the thorns

as dark blood oozes out
mixed with tears etching my cheek,
deposited in the new earth.
I hold my breath,

holding still, turning away
from the foamy wash of history and decay
holding still and silent today.