English Cemetery, Florence

There is a great democracy in death,
An intermingling of each beside the next
Linked only in that their last breath
Happened to take place here,
And here their names, set down in crumbling stone,
The unknown wife beside the great poet,
Sharing the same earth, flesh and bone,
Blending in the root of the pomegranate,
The lavender, the rosemary, the rose,
Which are not symbols but their real selves,
Foliage extravagant as it grows,
As they do not, no longer, not any more.
So, since we all have to die, this green spot
Is far from the worst of options, the grave markers
Mostly in good taste, but some not,
The occasional angel, half-pillar, monolith.
And strangely, there’s the constant rumbling sound
Engines and horns, this island of the dead
Is now a traffic island, progress runs around,
Trucks, buses, cars, the roar of modern life.
There is a story that, a little kid,
I cried in a cathedral when I heard
Gerald of Wales was dead. He was. I did.
Eight hundred years ago, and still I wept.
It’s not that I thought Clough was still alive.
Though he has helped me more than anyone this year.
He wrote in 1849. I’m not still five.
Just hadn’t thought that I would find him here.
Arthur Hugh Clough, my friend, all right, he died.
Dead at my feet, amid the fragrant plants,
Near Barrett, Landor, strangers. Yes, I cried.
Sod melancholy calm, death suck suck sucks!!!