Abbey Cemetery

Abbey Cemetery

for Kilian McDonnell, OSB

This gentle hill heaves,
pushing up crenellations—
those markers of surrendered life
secured even in death.

A phalanx of gray guards
front a cross of gangling
arms and golden wounds–
ushering through darkness
a way to light.

Agnomen front, plain, equal—
saintly names;
Albanus, Isidore, Norbert and Bede,
Meinulf, Othmar, Clement and Ambrose;
or apostolic in Paulus, Thaddaeus, Peter
or James; and simply human
as Placid, Innocent, Alto or Gall.

Nomen rearward, German stock:
Gertken, Brixus, Zwak, and Sieben
Wengert, Spitzer, Schmid, and Ortmann;
and the infrequent music
of Davis, McDarby, Martinez, and Bennett,
Sullivan, Lawrence and St. Hillaire.

These stones abide in final choir.
What music now? The subtle breeze
off lake through trees. The call of loon,
and jay and crow. Sweet silence—
brief pause in prayer extended
out of years.

St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN