Theresa McCaul-Miller’s love poem to Laurel Hill Cemetery

Theresa McCaul-Miller
Favorite Spot: Laurel Hill Cemetery
Address: 3822 Ridge Ave  Philadelphia, PA 19132
Neighborhood: North Philly

I am: A bird building her nest in the burbs.
Years in Philly: On and off Philly girl for decades; I wander away, but seem to always return.
Current Home: East Norriton

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My Love Note:

Dear Dead:

Whether I walk here alone, or with companions I always marvel at the delicacy with which your final resting place was crafted. Stone cut so intricately. Marble chiseled by a firm hand.

The hills here rise and fall like breath—what goes on beneath them? I climb and descend them, curious and stirred. They lead to more lives—gone, and unknown to me. I’m here to wonder, to recreate you.

I didn’t know you, and can’t even pronounce many of your names, but your names — your names call to mind images I’ve not actually seen. I see you sitting, talking, laughing, and sometimes mourning with your head in your hands. Your birthdate tells me your sun sign and I go deeper into my design of you: the stubborn Taurus philanthropist who lost two children—see their tiny graves beside his?—he threw himself into giving, he did—giving away everything he had because he didn’t want anything if his children couldn’t live and smile and laugh. I note that his wife lived many years after his death. Perhaps a vacation from this somber man?

Hundreds of feet below, Kelly Drive roars—
Runners and strollers buzz by the Schuylkill River.
Sparrows bounce wobbly, and chirp.
Once I swore I saw a fox.

Up here—at Laurel Hill, above it all—with death at my back and, always, the bluest sky riding high above my shoulders, there is the kind of quiet that makes me wonder whether I’ve had too much to drink—that woozy state into which we slip before plunging into dark sleep.

Sweet dreams—

Theresa

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