Love Among the Graves

Through the whole of an autumn after­noon,
we lay at the foot of a graven stone
in whose sunken shadow we made our bed—
a spray of night­shade encir­cled her head
and the play of dap­pled light on her cheek
and along her throat made it hard to speak—
the fra­grant grass was long and unmown,
her blouse undone and her hair wind­blown,
and none but the cold indif­fer­ent dead
bore wit­ness to all that was done or said.

And though half the vil­lage had damned out­right
our rene­gade love, we savored our plight
and as out­law lovers we vowed to stay
till dusk had oblit­er­ated the day—
the long hours passed and the last light waned,
yet still in delir­ium we remained,
lost in caresses increas­ingly bold,
cling­ing to all we could never hold
until, lying in ruins, at length, we slept,
as high over­head the cold stars crept.

And when the last star had died with the dawn,
I awoke to find her utterly gone—
by tracks of her skirt in the sil­ver dew,
by a rem­nant of rib­bon left as clue,
I traced her to where an old wil­low bent
to loosen its lan­guid leaves in the cur­rent
of Spoon River . . , and there where it wended
deep into shadow her story ended,
a glim­mer of sil­ver arms in the stream
and halos of float­ing hair like a dream.




B.J. Omanson’s poems in this issue are from a col­lec­tion of poems about the Spoon River val­ley in Illi­nois where he was raised. Other poems from this col­lec­tion have appeared in The Hud­son Review, The Sewa­nee Review, Shenan­doah & else­where. Most recently he wrote the anno­ta­tions for the poems of a “lost” WWI poet whom he redis­cov­ered, John Allan Wyeth, whose book of poems, This Man’s Army: A War in Fifty-odd Son­nets was repub­lished by the Uni­ver­sity of South Car­olina Press in 2008, with an intro­duc­tion by Dana Gioia. Omanson’s cur­rent project, Where the River Dark­ens: An Exper­i­ment in Auto­bi­og­ra­phy & Poetry, can be seen at