Northwest Cemetery, Ashfield by Karen Skolfield

Let the woods keep you.
Here I walk the stone walls of your grief.
Rocks wrested from the centers of fields,
Thomas, how you stacked and leveled,
demarcated cornfields from forest
finding its way back. Walls
of rounded stone that still won’t tumble.
Leaves skirling through the mossy cellars.
Lavina, did you lie awake knowing
that the forest would reclaim you.
There’s a marker at your head and feet,
Ezekiel, a bowl of settled earth. You’re all
waypoints of a country hike, now, valleyed
between two peaks with promised views.
The youngest here is four. No infants,
which is something of a miracle,
unless you buried them elsewhere,
Parish, or Eunice, or Phebe, in your grief.
Unless you left them here without stones.
The graveyard is what’s left to you, William.
Ruth, living to 93 with all your children
dead before you. Survivors of long-ago wars.
A family laid out in grass and graves.
A stonecutter’s weathered words.
Zebulon, if that is your real name.


Karen Skolfield’s book Frost in the Low Areas (2013) won the First Book Award for Poetry from Zone 3 Press. She is the poetry editor for Amherst Live, a quarterly production of poetry, politics, and more. She’s also a contributing editor at the literary magazine Stirring and her poems have appeared in Best of the Net Anthology, Cave Wall, Memorious, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Verse Daily, West Branch, and others. Visit her online at