Birds In Cemeteries

By George Kalogeris

Featured Image: “Two Cockatoo and Plum Blossom” by Ohara Koson

It must be the shade that draws them. Or else the grass.
And it seems they always alight away from their flocks,

Alone. It’s so quiet here you can’t help but hear
Their talons clink as they hop from headstone to headstone.

Their sharp, inquisitive beaks cast quizzical glances.
The lawn is mown. The gate is always open.

The names engraved on the stones, and the uplifting words
Below the names, are lapidary as ever.

But almost never even a chirp from the birds,
Let alone a wild shriek, as they perch on a tomb.

And then they fly away, looking as if
They couldn’t remember why it was they came—

But were doing what our souls are supposed to do
On the day we die, if the birds could read the words.


George Kalogeris’s most recent book of poems is Guide to Greece, (Louisiana State University, 2018). He is also the author of a book of paired poems in translation, Dialogos (Antilever, 2012), and of a book of poems based on the notebooks of Albert Camus, Camus: Carnets (Pressed Wafer, 2006). His poems and translations have been anthologized in Joining Music with Reason, chosen by Christopher Ricks (Waywiser, 2010). He teaches at Suffolk University.

Originally appeared in NOR 11.

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