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Jane Iandolo

About this Christian Poet:
I live in Newport, Rhode Island, where I am the organist at St. Spyridon's Greek Orthodox Church. I write short stories as well as poetry. My husband and I have five children and five grandchildren.

The Clifton Burying Ground is literally in my backyard in Newport, Rhode Island. Buried here are several governors appointed by the King of England when Rhode Island was a colony. The State of Rhode Island has marked particular graves with plaques noting that these men were "Governors under the Royal Charter." The dates are the oldest in the graveyard.

My neighbor and I have planted daffodils and daylilies along one side of the graveyard and we tend our flowers throughout the growing season. My flower garden spills into the graveyard.

The Old Burying Ground

Gravestones on Golden Hill glow in the ashen mist.
Colonial governors, gray-haired elders,
rest in opalescent light near grandchildren swept away by smallpox.

Ghosts creep
in the spring silence
as thick fog drifts up from the harbor.

Headstones, footstones: sentinels
lean this way and that on hallowed ground
guarding graves amid violets and wild thyme.

All here gazed upon The Angel of Death
staring blankly from stones
since 1693, 1696, 1697.

Spirits hover in the murky air,
vaporous shades of Governors under the Royal Charter,
wives, children, and one unknown soul

whose stone whispers a spectral warning
in the stillness:

"Kind traveler
make here a stop
and thy own end consider
Consider thou art born to dye
and cannot live for ever
and for eternall happiness
in health thy selfe prepare
for here lyes one that was cut down of strength
Death would not spare"

                   Copyright©2004 by Jane Iandolo