The Honor System

There is nothing to stop
the kid in the angry red baseball hat
from crunching down the gravel path
through an always open gate
to the spot where a large stone
marks my father’s grave

A tempting canvas
for some malicious mischief
a few shakes of the can
the whoosh as a crooked cross
splays itself over the Hebrew words
that remember the skeleton
as a bright and modest man

The boneyard is on the road
where local klansman
hurled fist-sized rocks
to smash the heads of folk singers
when my father was an
idealistic college student,
the moral arch of history finally
bending the right way
if the line could only hold

Seventy years later
no guard or locked gate
defends the graves of
those helpless dead
who are, anyway, beyond harm now

It’s the honor system,
I suppose.

This entry was posted in poem.

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