Homewood Cemetery

David Offf /​/​Flickr Homewood Cemetery
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My husband and I walk its paths at dusk
in the lessening light when heat and humidity ease.

There is much life among these graves—
deer browse, wild turkeys run and flirt,
groundhogs and chipmunks hide in shadows.
Red-​winged blackbirds flash across the pond,
land on reeds that surround it.
Water lilies bloom, a thick carpet of pink
and yellow, veil the fish and bullfrogs
and turtles that live below.

Up the hill and around a curve, two infant-​sized headstones
for two infants:
Our Darling Margaret
Our Darling Lillian.
I imagine their mother with empty arms, useless arms,
no children to hold, to rock, to feed or bathe or dress…

Our darling, too, is here.
Not an infant, but a young man.
Not a grave, but a soft bag of ashes
sheltered behind glass in a mausoleum
at the far end of the cemetery.
We rarely stop, don’t feel him there.
For us, he lives in the wind and leaves and sky.

But this summer evening we pause,
see in the branches of a nearby oak
two hawks,
separated by the tree’s trunk,
perched in wild contentment, the breeze
ruffling their feathers.
In silent agreement one, then the other,
spread wings, soar upward.


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its weekly online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to

Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Valerie Bacharach

Valerie Bacharach lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a member of Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic poetry workshops. She conducts weekly poetry workshops with the women of Power House, a halfway house for women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Voices from the Attic, Pittsburgh City Paper Chapter and Verse, Uppagus, Pittsburgh Post-​Gazette, U. S. 1 Worksheets, Poetica, and Pittsburgh Poetry Review.

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