ghosts at church point (at st. mary’s college of maryland)

Justin lays frozen
beneath a pile of oyster shells
on the slope of the hill
at the edge of the old graveyard behind
Calvert Hall and the church.
I press my hand
on the cold metal of his name and
continue the walk down gravel
to the frozen river, the shore dressed in white.

At the end, a tall wooden cross
guards the river. I lean against it,
steamy puffs of air rising
up with each shallow breath,
one gloved hand splintering wood.
I hear birds flapping their wings and water
clicking and clacking in a strained attempt
at escape. There, the frozen horizon; it
stretches far beyond my sight.

Spread wide, my arms north and south,
face pale and cold, cheeks ruddy
from light river breezes.
The songs of the Sunday
church choir come floating in my brain,
the ghosts on the hill with
their soft waves of whispers. I walk
closer to the water; I am now
closer to that compelling
that led Justin quiet from this life.

(Rip, Justin, April 30, 2001)

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