Thursday, October 28, 2010

taps
























We crawled
like quail in the graveyard,
hid quiet behind markers
while Larry trumpeted Taps,
slow and poignant,
for herringbone mourners.

Then skipped
along the blanket-tops, at ease
among the tombs and trees,
tipped small, pigeon-toed
between headstones;

not disturbing the slumber,
not stepping directly
on their beds, crouching low,
still, against a marble pillow,
to prevent the crunching
of leaves.



Tess Kincaid
October 27, 2010


I have fond memories of tagging along with my young uncles, who were actually more like brothers to me, in the Burlington Cemetery, Carroll County, Indiana when I was a girl. We would watch quietly, from a safe distance, while my Uncle Larry, played Taps for local funerals on his trumpet. 

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106 comments:

  1. having grown up with the cemetery out back i am very comfortable with the dead...but do walk quiet so as not to disturb...this one is going to be fun willow.

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  2. I love the fall/cemetery feel to this one, and the knowledge of the slumber of those who lie beneath.

    Also, the detail (such detail!), as in "herringbone
    overcoats." Beautifully done, Willow.

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  3. Pretty cool! Very visual too by the way.

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  4. "cold marble pillow" - rather eerie
    When I was young, graveyards gave me the creeps.

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  5. Since I hung around one when I was small, I still feel the need to take at least one autumnal walk through a cemetery, and consider life and humanity.

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  6. Willow, you never cease to amaze me. I mean really, truly amazed. Every line of this is magical and the whole piece is rather eerie. Bisous, Love and Light, Sender

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  7. I think there is a particular beauty in a cemetery. I absolutely believe that the stories therein are sacred and that they are out in the open for us to pay attention to.

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  8. I can just imagine the scene. Perfection Willow.

    I recently wandered through a wonderfully old cemetary while visiting Newport. It was small, outside an old church (of course) with overgrown vines and drooping trees. There was a beautiful wrought iron fence and gate and I swear to you, as we were leaving, we noticed a black cat sitting on one of the headstones watching us. It was great.

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  9. ssshhh...don't wake the dead :)

    the fall color in the cemetaries around the Northeast right now is gorgeous!

    My husband's maternal grandmother met her future husband one Sunday afternoon in a cemetary.

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  10. nice magpie...its something that frightens me though

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  11. Rene, what an intriguing place to meet a husband! I love that. Fun to know the younger generations are still talking about it.

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  12. I like the image of meandering around like quail. My great grandfathers head stone looked like this image after 100 years. so we built him a new one but it never had the charm of age. You captured that silence and strangeness of old cemetries beautifully.

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  13. Oh, I like the imagery and the final one: not to crunch the leaves.

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  14. I love cemeteries there a peace about them you find no where else, and a sadness as well. Taps is engrossing I felt myself sigh when it ended I could have read much longer!!!!!

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  15. your poem bring too many good memories :)

    I have a special attraction for cemeteries.

    Lovely poem

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  16. Place and time are captured so well here, Tess.

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  17. Is this yours? it is too good to have been written in a few minutes after a prompt; surely you had it waiting?

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  18. Rings of childhood memories of Truman Capote or Harper Lee...a little girl following her uncles/like brothers. Beautiful detail and heartfelt words on the dead and their slumber. Bravo!

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  19. It sounds as if you were very respectful of the dead, even as a young child. I remember, as a young child, playing in the cemetery as my parents tended relatives' graves. I used to jump over the gravestones as a kind of hopscotch. As a child, I didn't think seriously of what was beneath.

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  20. Friko, thank you, yes, it's mine. I wrote it quickly this afternoon.

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  21. Yes, I see it is.
    Yours, I mean.
    It is indeed a beautiful little vignette.
    I wish i'd given myself more time and perhaps produced a less clumsy effort in the process.
    Damn this time difference.

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  22. Blue Sky, Scout reminds me so much of myself at that age.

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  23. Tiny Tess tiptoeing around the headstones.
    Wonderful imagery...or a possible song. :)
    Beautifully done.

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  24. Something I've always liked, and the older the better. Old Stones and Markers,... just right. Pose so many questions. Who was this? I wonder..... Thanks so much for another wonderful prompt!

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  25. Love it!

    I grew up next to a cemetery and have the fondest memories of walking/biking/rolling down leaf-covered hillsides there. Even to this day, I go back to visit, as there is a 'thin place' in one section where I love to pray.

    Thanks, Willow, for sharing your talents and making me smile...

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  26. Willow,
    I too like the peaceful slumber aura of a cemetery. And likewise skirt around the graves proper while conversing with those who live, at last, in hormony with their neighbors.
    rel

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  27. Aww...I never knew Larry did that!

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  28. Love it - I could really see you there.

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  29. willow thankyou for sharing your lovely writing! i enjoy my time in graveyards. i visit one near where i work almost every week as it sits beside a river, is almost entirely quiet and has the most gorgeous stately old tress. steven

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  30. What a wonderful memory. I think your respect for the sleeping dead is the reason your visitors are so interesting and none threatening. You have earned their respect. Great poem.

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  31. Beautifully done!
    The whole poem feels like it should be read in a whisper.

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  32. You definitely sound like a caretaker, Willow. Such a poignant poem.

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  33. Awesome poem. Well written. Glad to know a fellow Hoosier. I am from Indiana and have lived here most of my life.

    I love cemeteries and the peacefulness of walking around. Excellent poem!

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  34. Willow, your poem really paints a wonderful story of being in a grave yard. Aren't cemeteries amazing places?!? My Aunt and I love to poke around old cemeteries and imagine the lives that are immortalized in stone there.

    An yes, we too, are careful to "not disturb the slumber..."

    Rick

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  35. The words fit the season well. The sound of taps, would be such a good sound over a cemetery in the fall. Sounds lie a great place to play even without music in the background.

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  36. a very detached account on the subject of death.. i see the speaker so innocent in the whole event, yet has an eye for resonating details.

    i love it. this is one thing you can get when you ask a kid how she got by in her past attended funerals.

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  37. A remarkable piece, Willow,
    puts us in a reflective mood,
    like your Autumn walks in
    cemeteries to give you some
    perspective on this life, and
    that transition. I, too, saw the
    pigeon-toed short-haired
    tomboy Tess as a slightly older
    Scout, a hoosier heroine that
    Harper Lee would have adored.
    I liked the set up /crawled around
    like quail/ for they do move
    silently, live on little and give
    back a lot. We can hear Larry
    skillfully played his trumpet,
    hear the echo of Taps fleeing
    toward the river, taking wing,
    a flock of notes splitting the
    dead air, that beautiful mournful
    sound. Your /mourners in
    herringbone coats/ set the perfect
    pitch, engaging our noses as
    well as our ears. The poetics
    are, as stated, reverent, yet still
    spooky, like a little girl growing
    up with a mortuary as the family
    business. Those of us who love
    to prowl old cemeteries, and photograph
    the headstones, and commune with
    the spirit of the place, are practicers
    of "taphophilia", I am told. Whatever,
    we roam and dream, and we are
    legion.

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  38. When touring around small villages here in France, one of my prefered destinations is the cemetery. They never date back very far here, usually to about 1860-ish, but are are always filled with the most interesting monuments etc. At the end of this week (Toussaint) they will all become filled with unpleasant potted flowers. Not so nice!!

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  39. I used to teach funeral details in the Army. Even tried to get certified as a bugler.

    Love the poem.

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  40. I was wondering if the glorious crinkling of dead leaves underfoot wasn't what atttracts ghosts in the fall.

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  41. "Taps"? More USA than UK? A very evocative piece.

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  42. I 2 try not 2 step on the "beds" when I go 2 a cemetary.

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  43. Very emotional picture with Taps being played..

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  44. Wonderful poem. I love your words 'blanket top' and 'pillow' when writing about the graves.

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  45. You painted your memories in the most vivid details, so vivid, I could swear I was there too, brilliant! :-)

    "Like quail in the village graveyard" - Willow, that is such a vivid picture, I shall never again look at quails running along and dodging in and out of furrows without thinking of that line of yours! (I grew up in the country, after all, and observing quails was a favorite pastime, just like watching white mushrooms grow, hunched down deep in the field, between rows of corn).

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  46. Alright,
    i shall go and find some synonyms for "vivid"! *redfaced*

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  47. Willow,
    A very well thought out poem of days gone by. You have so many wonderful memories of those impressive years. Yes indeed; I can remember Uncle Larry teaching me to play taps and carry on the family tradition. I can remember distinctly he telling me to face the grave the first time thru the taps and then turning and facing the deep ravine back of the cemetery and repeating the taps to give the echo effect and adding closure to the ceremony. Thanks Willow for a fond memory! :) The Bach

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  48. There are times a wee child must be quiet like a "quail"(or hunting like ghosts?). The solemnity of the moment also evokes the curiousity of the young 'un. Stamped with permanence of Indiana,the people, places, times and events. Memorable and indelible poem, Tess! Thank-you!

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  49. I love cemeteries. There is such intrigue there...the WHO, the WHAT...so many possibilities...so many stories within the graves there.

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  50. 'herringbone' lovely, as is the taps-
    I walked softly, but never pigeon-toed, how great! At ease ? I guess I would be in company of others. I have at times been solo & reverently focused; Thanks!

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  51. This is so visual, and also audible..the crunch of leaves, the child's point of view...excellent!

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  52. That "cold marble pillow" of the prompt... Excellent

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  53. wonderful picture you paint shows so much respect for the dead i too love graveyards great photo for Halloween too.

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  54. and poor Julia, who died in but days

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  55. It's very alive, this poem set in a cemetery.

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  56. I think it's wonderful that you had that early exposure to cemeteries! I was afraid of them for a long time, but genealogy has totally changed my perspective. Love your poetry Willow!

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  57. I love the sound of Taps...One of those thins that immediately invokes certain memories and feelings of peace.

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  58. I always enjoy your poetry this one is especially a good story

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  59. I think it's a good thing not to be wary of graveyards, while showing some respect. They can be strange places. I like the idea of you being quail!

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  60. What a touching poem, Willow. I used to have picnics in an old cemetery when I lived in VA, with a good friend who was always up for eccentric outings. We'd try to do stone rubbings and we'd read the stones to try to imagine what their lives had been. Something comforting--not eerie--about it to me...

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  61. I love the images you evoke - the solemn ceremony of taps, the small child keeping quiet, out of sight. And, frankly, I think I would really like a herringbone coat now!

    I cheated & posted one I wrote in July. It would NOT leave my head so I just gave up.

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  62. Dear Willow, This poem really resonates with me as I so love strolling through graveyards. To some it may seem macabre, but to me I find it offers time for quiet reflection, often on the topic of one's own mortality.

    How I understand the need of the small child to tiptoe in order not to disturb - I often speak in whispers when accompanied on my strolls with the same concern in mind perhaps.

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  63. I was brought up quite close to a cemetery and have no fear of going into one whatever time of day or night. As my father used to say - if they don;t hurt you when they are alive they can't possibly hurt you when they are gone. Lovely poem Tess - lovely sentiment behind it.

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  64. A re-read conjured up tears
    this morning, recalling the funeral
    of my nephew, dead of SIDS at
    three months old. His coffin was
    so tiny, and the grief so colossal
    that people who attended needed
    attending soon after. My sister
    needed therapy because she
    somehow blamed herself for the
    tragedy. Only decades later can
    I honor the emotional contract
    that little Mark had with us all;
    and he did his part perfectly.

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  65. i like the way you express being respectful of the situation yet still curious.

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  66. I can identify with this amazing piece because I too, with my late father used to take great delight in wandering through very old church graveyards as they are called in the bowels of ancient English villages. My mother could never understand our fascination saying it was 'morbid' and once refused to buy a beautiful house because it was opposite a cemetery! We saw it as historically interesting.

    "Herringbone overcoats" - beautiful detail.

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  67. as a saxophone player, the trumpet sidetracked me...and while the poem was going on..the trumpet still played..mingling with the sound of crushing leaves you couldn't prevent to make....beautiful willow..really beautiful

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  68. I understand this feeling Willow there is such a reverence i feel in a cemetary...i always have a hard time walking away...i always linger to read the markers, and think about what they must have been like....i love this poem...beautifully capturing that reverence and feeling.

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  69. I love this! To me it conveys a child's freedom from having to show sorrow or solemnity in a place usually so full of both - such freedom!

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  70. What nice memories. And how well you record them. I enjoyed reading this.

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  71. A memorable piece with lines of imagery that stick in the mind. Lovely!

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  72. Very nice. I used to visit cemeteries a lot for genealogy research, and my son was always drug along, so he learned early on to be comfortable in cemeteries. Love your poem.

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  73. What a marvelous memory. I read the poem twice and kept seeing a child skipping around, perhaps playing hide and seek. It wasn't until after the second read that I read your closing lines.

    You've created a lovely word picture but stayed faithful to the memory and you shared it with delicate clarity.

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  74. "..skipped
    around the blanket-tops,
    tipped small, pigeon-toed
    between the headstones,
    not disturbing the slumber.." One of your best, yet, willow.

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  75. Yes, not stepping directly
    on their beds
    feels to me,also, the wrong thing to do.

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  76. Thanks for this. Brought back memories from very long ago. It is wonderful to appreciate your work and have it resonate so very deep with me. -J

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  77. Great poem, and atmosphere! Your blog is the antidote to our too hot summer here right now!!

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  78. I could feel the ground crawling upon it, I could hear the crunching of the leaves. Powerfully written words.

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  79. loved the comfort mixed with respect.
    nice willow, very nice

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  80. Great poem. I was taught not to step on the graves. To do so was disrespectful. I thought they were creepy places I didn't want to be.

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  81. Well done. I like the quail and the marble pillow.

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  82. Willow, I'm surprised your poetry isn't published in a beautiful volume somewhere. It is mesmerizing.

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  83. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  84. This prompt made me think of my nephew whom was stillborn this time last year. He was full term and was a seemingly healthy baby but something went terribly long in the few days leading up to his birth.
    I know that this grave stone in your photo prompt is over a century old but is saddened me to see it broken in half... so I fixed it up in my magpie!!! Great poem Willow and very emotive prompt!!!

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  85. Yes, your details are arresting. I love the quail image.

    My first time joining in, thanks!

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  86. Dark one!!
    Loved the imagery

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  87. well done.
    I so do cherish my childhood memories.
    Happy Halloween.

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  88. Loved the last two lines, marble pillow ... great mag as always

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  89. Marvelous poem. When I read "baggy mourners" I thought of the moan of bagpipes used in some funerals.

    My husband played Taps from the whale-watching boat after we scattered my mother's ashes at sea, so I have a soft spot in my heart for your Uncle Larry.

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  90. awesome story/poem. A way cool memory to have and so well shared. I loved the first line, comparing yourselves to quail. I love graveyards and especially the headstones with the old pictures of the people in lockets. so cool.

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  91. Graveyards have a fascination for kids - especially the old tombstones.
    I could see you crouching there, watching from a distance.
    Nice Magpie.

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  92. It is a rewarding prompt, Willow. Thank you. More to come.

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  93. Dear readers, you make sharing my poetry such a delight. Many, many thanks. xx

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  94. this was enjoyable. I was trying to read quiet so as not to disturb :) "tipped small, pigeon toed" loved those words together :)

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  95. I like the bird references -- they're as comfortable in a cemetery as your character seems. Except they don't mind stepping on the graves...

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  96. your writing makes me feel comfortable and not affraid of death. Thanks!!

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  97. You wrote - beautifully - of how it feels to walk among the spirits! I could hear Taps and feel the herringbone.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)