By Pete Tucker
Was driving by Mt. Salem church today,
Just like a thousand times before.
I braked, for a reason yet unknown to me.
Perhaps, for a visit with the days of yore.
The gravestones were cold and stoic,
Leaving scarce little for me to know
Of what happened here in centuries past
In the Alexandria of years ago.
But by and by the place warmed up.
The names on these stones, I presently found,
Are the names of folks I know today,
Names that are surely still around.
There is Hyde and Hornbaker,
There is Kitchen and Race.
Justice Myers and Maxwell,
Mechling and Frace.
No, not all the names are still here.
Some took secrets to the grave.
But cleared fields that surround Mt. Salem
Are a measure of what they gave.
But off in the lingering corner
Gravestones one can barely see.
Gnarled in briars and thicket and thorn,
Could anyone here explain to me?
Who are these folks? Stones worn of all clue;
Are they Mt. Salem’s bereft and forgotten?
Who are these folks, at rest in tattered weeds?
Are they Mt Salem’s misbegotten?
The smallest of all gravestones,
And more overgrown than most,
Would become my day’s challenge;
To reach it, the day’s only boast.
So with clippers and shears, I take to the task
And whack and cut as much as I can.
Finally the stone is cleared, revealing two words.
How do you do, RACHEL ANN?
If, from your tiny grave you could talk,
What story would you tell?
Was life too short, was there time for play
Before your tragedy befell?
What ever was it that happened?
What ever was your now distant fate?
Was there not the time when you graced this place,
Before time declared it to be too late?
Now as you rest among these folks,
Though obscured by meddling weeds,
It is an honor to have finally found you.
Has Providence met two of our needs?
Mine is simply to have found you.
The reason for my visit now comes clear.
I’ve passed you by a thousand times,
But now I know that you are here.
And do please know, Rachel Ann,
That for as long in Mt. Salem as I live,
Knowledge of your being here
To caring neighbors I shall give.