They Were People
He will not say who he is,
walks past tall marble monuments
personalized with birth and death dates,
names, fond messages, some fresh flowers.
He visits each week, sees only the far corner
of the cemetery, molehill graves near rubbish.
Today he counts 1 through 29
small flat stones that tell a story – boat sinking-date,
Afghan 3, or 7, or Number 11, 6 –
child, man, woman.
Those no-one knows
or wants to know.
Except kin left behind
or kin they were to meet.
His phone rings – a call for photos of a grave,
the face of the dead. He emails,
does not tell
the burial was without prayers, without
the head facing Mecca.
He does not tell
that when this corner is filled, stones
and bodies are removed, bones desecrated.
He will not say it is made ready
for new drownings
on the ninety-minute sea crossing.
He will not tell these families
their people might never have existed.
Published: Ascent Aspirations Friday Poem, July 27, 2018