The Old Wall


The Old Wall
The wall around our family plot in the cemetery
is waist high and built from local stones.
The stones are weathered
and some are missing.
My great-grandfather’s great-grandfather
built the wall when the first grave was interred –
his wife and son, both of them dead in childbirth.
Grief built the wall.
Grief holds it there.
Covered in lichen and moss,
sometimes a few fallen leaves,
sometimes a small stone added to the top
to record a visit.
It wraps around the graves
holding them in its secure embrace.
The wall was there when I was born.
It will be there when I die.

Old stone wall with moss and lichen

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vivian Zems
    Sep 26, 2018 @ 14:41:59

    A poignant read. Well done!


  2. anmol(alias HA)
    Sep 26, 2018 @ 15:15:20

    Oh my, I love how you build on the history of the wall — piece by piece, stone by stone, it becomes a monument of “grief” that “holds it there”. And the idea of recorded visits is wonderful.
    Poignant and powerful, in equal measures. ❤


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 26, 2018 @ 15:23:09

      Thank you Anmol. Jews often, after the first year of mourning, leave a pebble on the grave of the deceased to mark the visit. We chose to leave the pebble on the wall instead of on one grave. This way all our relatives are covered.

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      • anmol(alias HA)
        Sep 26, 2018 @ 17:27:30

        Oh, I wasn’t aware of the ritual. It is beautiful, how leaving it on the wall covers everyone. Thanks for telling that, Toni. It makes me appreciate the poem even more. 🙂


        • kanzensakura
          Sep 26, 2018 @ 17:40:00

          The Orthodox Jews sit Shiva (mourning) for a month. The person is interred and they do not go back to the grave for a year. They also have a ceremony during the burial where each person outs a shovel full of dirt in the grave. They push the diet in with the back of the shovel showing that this is not the usual use for the shovel

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  3. susa
    Sep 26, 2018 @ 15:28:27

    “local stones” took on a double meaning for me when the wall became an embrace. The structures built into our history, carry our story. I hope the wall remains as a material thing, but if it doesn’t, it remains in the hearts


  4. gillena cox
    Sep 26, 2018 @ 16:04:27

    Sturdy wall. Holding in memories of heritage. It lets you know who you are.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog today Toni

    Much love…


  5. Vicki
    Sep 26, 2018 @ 17:56:29

    So beautiful!


  6. Sherry Blue Sky
    Sep 26, 2018 @ 18:29:08

    I love the thought of that ancient wall, protecting the family graves. So sad, the wife and son who died in childbirth.


  7. oldegg
    Sep 26, 2018 @ 22:00:51

    What a beautiful and well written poem about a family graveyard plot. A really satisfying read,


  8. Sumana Roy
    Sep 27, 2018 @ 00:31:16

    Wall of grief yet so comforting to be with the loved ones once again. I love the tone of reverence. A beautiful poem Toni.


  9. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Sep 27, 2018 @ 02:43:15

    I love the steadfast continuity.


  10. kim881
    Sep 27, 2018 @ 04:07:19

    Your wall is a poignant one, Toni, with so much history and grief. I can’t imagine having a family plot but it must be a wonderful place to visit and remember or even discover things about family.Even though the ‘stones are weathered’, ‘covered in lichen and moss’ and some are missing, it is a marker for remembrance..I particular like the lines:
    ‘Grief built the wall.
    Grief holds it there’
    and .
    ‘It wraps around the graves
    holding them in its secure embrace’.


  11. magicalmysticalteacher
    Sep 27, 2018 @ 07:54:31

    Some walls are worth building. A wall around a family burial plot is one of them.


  12. robbiecheadle
    Sep 27, 2018 @ 13:28:47

    This is a beautiful and moving poem.


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