Autumn Drive by Raphael Dagold

The cemetery’s metal crescents glint
across the road from the corrugated
roofs of the village, each crescent aloft
above an eighth-scale stucco structure,
& I quote Lewis Mumford who proclaimed
The city of the dead antedates the city
of the living
, & Bill, a trained philosopher,
objects: that can’t possibly be true.
It’s my birthday, early October, & we’re
driving five hours up into the Ala-Too range,
Sky Mountain, to a lake, Song-Kul.
Oh it gets worse, I tell Bill, as according
to Mumford, Urban life spans the historic
space between the earliest burial ground
for dawn man and the final cemetery,
the Necropolis,
so it’s not just the living
begot from the dead, but it’s the dead
who survive, whose cities persist,
whose infrastructure practically maintains
itself, bridges perenially stout, aquaducts
ever clear. In the morning, early snow
sweeps nearly sideways & we drive
back winding through a landscape
suddenly white, steep slopes with dots
of black sheep, cattle crowding two lanes
into one, a green Lada with aluminum
roof rack & no driver, no passengers in sight,
& when we stop for a break at a bend
in the road where castoff rail cars,
painted sky blue & white, line the way
on blocks, a herd of lithe horses runs
single-file past, down from the driven snow,
toward where others too remain unfrozen.
Raphael Dagold’s first book, Bastard Heart, was published in 2014 by Silverfish Review Press, and was a finalist for the Utah Book Award in Poetry. His poems and essays have won numerous awards, and have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as The Asheville Poetry Review, The American Literary Review, Diode, and Crab Orchard Review. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.