This image was chosen because cemeteries are a sacred place and I had a recent connection with the sacred nature of a cemetery.
This is a poem from a student inspired by how they connected to nature during a fieldtrip to test the water at the Detroit River, and Bloody Run Creek this school year. Enjoy!
“As I enter the cemetery
I am instantly reminded of my first funeral.
It was February.
I watched my grandmother get glued and hammered into a little mausoleum.
It was that day
that Zora Nunley became strikingly aware of other people’s graves.
I saw them simply as dead people.
But now I realize they were not simply lost
in their battle with death”
“but carried in people’s hearts
as I carried Nana in mine.
They had their own stories
Their own familiesand loved ones.
Their own conflicts and disagreements
were carried into people’s hearts
just as I carried Nana in mine.”
“I know I said it was my first funeral
but it was not my first loss.
The ones before were just less personal.
I’d lost when my family jumped off the ships.
I’d lost when my family perished under the sweltering heat.”
I wonder how many I’ve lost since;
the many I can’t find in a cemetery
but instead in an unmarked grave somewhere in the South.
Zora Nunley is strikingly aware of other people’s graves.
So when I talk to my grandmother or my ancestors
I wonder if they’re aware
I see them–
if they see me.
I hope people will someday do the same for me. These are the ideas I hold sacred to my heart.”
By: Zora, 8th Grade
Teacher: Charlene Jones, The James and Grace Lee Boggs School, Detroit
Theme: General Place-Based Education
Zora, I love the way you played with the structure of this poem. It’s clear that you’re a reader of poetry. I, too, feel connected to ancestors in the way that you describe here. And you painted a haunting image with your grandmother getting “glued and hammered into a little mausoleum.” Powerful
Very beautiful and how true!