Poetry Supplement Summer 1999, Volume 17.0
Kevin Holdsworth (M.A. Utah State University) is native of Salt Lake City who liked his hometown better before the current boom, back when it was derisively referred to as "a cemetery with lights." He is currently Assistant Professor of English and Director of Western Studies at Western Wyoming College. His work has most recently appeared in Petroglyph, Owen Wister Review, High Plains Register, and Tiny Lights.
At a Cemetery in Salt Lake City
We are moving tomorrow
to a place without trees
and so return here to visit
dead we do not know
because it makes us feel more alive.
This cemetery may be
the loveliest place in town today
with a view of two-mile-high mountains
shedding snow in the soft May heat.
She likes this cemetery business—
her shadow occupation
and searches headstones for epitaphs
to collect the solace of words.
While I would prefer to dwell above the ground
and study the fine pines,
paper birch, and blossoming crabapples
to carry a forest in mind to our new found land.
Half her people
were sent by Brigham Young
to settle well-watered Cache Valley
and there repose at the foot of pine-blue hills.
The other half
rode west on rails
and lie beneath the fleshy cliffs
of Ogden, gentile town.
My people, too,
remain in the lilac-scented lap of the Wasatch,
in Smithfield, Lehi,
But we are heading east,
the direction whence they came,
like uprooted tumbleweeds riding a west wind
to a land of rabbitbrush, sage and plains.
We pass stone rosettes,
lambs carved in weathered sandstone,
and reflections of granite mountains,
carved in granite, with an elk,
a lake, a cabin in the pines.
She says the dead don't care
if we walk the sod above them.
They're just glad someone cares to visit.
Perhaps it is enough,
no matter where,
to hope someday to be found,
side by side,
sinking in the spring.