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I find joy in the cemetery trees.

Their roots are in our hearts.

In their leaves the soul

of another century is in ascension.

I hear the rustling of their branches

and watch the exhausted laborers

from the Burgreen Construction Company

sit down in the shade,

unwrapping their ham and salami

and popping open their thermoses.

Apparently, they too are enamored

of the hickory and willow

at the edge of our cemetery.

They are stretching twine, building a wall

as though this could be contained.

Probably they do not think

of our grandmothers who are pierced,

and probably do not want

to hear about Thomas Hardy,

who, if I remember, has been dead

longer than they have been alive,

And who gave to the leaves of one yew

the names of his own dead. Anyway

the only spirits I can call in this place

are the stench of a possum

suppurating in secret weeds

and the flies, who are marvelous

because their appetite is our revulsion.

Let the laborers go on. Right now

I wish I could admire the trees simply

for their architecture. All winter

the dying have set their tables

and now they are almost as black

as the profound waters off Guam.

A few minutes ago, when they started

in a slight breeze off the lake,

the many and patient sails,

I could see in those motions

a little of the world that owns me —

and that I cannot understand —

rise in its indifferent passion.

I Find Joy In the Cemetery Trees

Rodney Jones

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translated from the Ukrainian written by
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