• Beatrice Iker

Poem #8: East Knoxville is a Cemetery

My heart

beats

in hues of

Knoxville

Tennessee - all I see, everything I’ve ever

felt


In the colored section of town

(east)

there’s a cemetery


The cemetery

stretches, taut against gravity and disconnectedness

and the prayer-filled blood of my

great-grandmother


The cemetery

stretches

from block to block

mind to mind

ruined, abandoned home

to

ruined, inhabited home


The headstones are

mailboxes

with the surnames of those

who never escaped this aching

town of bones

town of beauty so

devastating, it hurts to look at


The groundskeeper is

me - furiously, fiercely, fearfully

writing down the elder’s names

so they are never

forgotten

so they are never laying

in a plot

unmarked, unloved, un-remembered


In the shadow of the Smokies

in the hollow pit of my lungs

in Knoxville

Tennessee - all I see, everything I’ve ever

felt


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