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Poem - Calloway Cemetery

by Jack Lynch



The kids do not wish to stop here, they do not want to leave the car
And walk around a cemetery,  What is this thing, these gray stones scattered about?
Why do we care, about a cemetery?

Our car sidles off NC Route 163, by the New River, we enter through a chain link fence
An odd thing way up here in these mountains, where a locust stump will do for a post
And barbed wire stretches to measure a man’s land, his cattle, hogs, houses, barns

Across the dewy grass, we move unto a mystery
Of ancestors, names, places, houses gone, land owned
Lives measured, marked, the hand of God across generations
Bookmarks of our past

Slowly, this magic envelopes the children, suddenly - Look there, another Faw, and another
“Boy, there are a lot of Faw’s here Dad”, These are your ancestors, I say
Across the river there was a farmhouse where they lived, right up the road another they built
These are called the Old Fields, the Indian lands of cultivation
A place where bullets of Revolution flew once
Here is Absalom Faw who was gored by a bull, that’s his stone there
The children take it in, run around a bit, searching their newfound origins
Here’s the stele said to be pulled from the New River here by Daniel Boone
Carved with initials TC, it looks like a petrified fence post
For his friend Tom Calloway’s grave, who’s not here, maybe a favored slave under it
And those little field stones, they’re graves of slaves it’s said.

In 1940, the river rose up to here, washed away homes, people
A hundred year flood as they say, it is remembered

I need say no more, I’ve inspired awe at rows of cold stone
Memories familial, geological time, raging river, deadly bulls
How much more can you give such young lives, here lies part of you
Wear it well new ones, know these are your ancestral bones, and a bit of dust
A handful of soil for your soul, a whisper of voices as you enter the room





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Copyright 2010-11 by Jack Lynch. All rights reserved.