Gravedigger’s Soliloquy

Sofia Zavatone-Veth

The scent of rosemary rankles overmuch the soul

For on white linen it is strewn

To clear the path through broken pavements

and cold clay earth where breath lives not.

These halls of stone are greened with herbs

and dusty smoke that bleeds out hoarfrost

as winter comes. Fair night, I beseech thee

to clear the air of this miasma that doth choke

the air from lungs of funeral-goers

and send them marching down to join their host.

Rosemary, rosemary, bleed out thy sap

and leave the living to their peace.

It is so cold in these graves, these empty rooms

where starlight shineth not upon my face

and water washes over clammy floors

stuck through with clumps of ashes.

The mourners’ feet doth ring on steps of bone

Their eyes burnéd crimson by sorrow’s blood,

those salty crystal tears.

Laugh, laugh, rosemary, for your bones wither not

and your fluted tongues of green cannot lament

As your cold perfume drives mortals mad with memory.