It Isn’t Easy Being The First

Clair de lune
It isn’t easy being the first.
To be taken out of the town which you helped build
To be placed here out of the way of ongoing life
Town life happens down there, not here
Occasionally, someone riding or walking by will pause for a moment, but then continues
Schoolchildren will race by with silly notions and perhaps
with a passing thought about me

Then one day a procession comes from town
Finally, they have come to visit, but alas,
It is not true
They came to leave the child of Mary and Joseph Browne several yards from me.
Some of my old friends walked near me and paused but the pause was too short
Before you know it,
It was just me and the child as the living wandered back to their places in the town
It isn’t easy being first
However, it isn’t easy being the first child
The day before you were held in the arms of love
Given sweet kisses and strange sounds of parents being parents
Now, like me, you are assigned to this flower field
Our only daily visitors will be the bees and the occasional butterfly
Birds will fly overhead
A hawk will scout for its supper
For a lifeless place there are a lot of field mice
The clouds will continue to move above us
It is strange-
For so long,
I believed living in that town which I helped to build with my hands and back
Seemed like the place to be
Now, I am not sure.

What is this?
Another procession of town people so soon
Who is it now?
Oh, no!
It’s Ellen Chambers.
I always fancied if I had been a few years younger then I would have made that fine woman mine
Alas, we were born out time for that reality to be
I wonder what happened-the last that I knew she and Bobby Elmwood were getting married.
What’s that you say, Ellen?
Oh! You died in childbirth, but your daughter lives as Bobby grieves his loss of you.
I am so sorry, dear Ellen.
Never to see your child grow and become a girl, then a young lady and then a woman like you
Cry your tears, dear Ellen, for the days will pass when she will be placed here hopefully, beside you her mother.
Later that night, I heard Ellen singing to the child next to her-too ra loo ra loo ral hush now don’t you cry…
Such a lovely Irish voice, just like my dear mother in Dublin
Sing, sweet girl, sing and perhaps angels will come for voice lessons
And we could use the company.

Here they come again.
Who?
Mayor Howard T. Young.
Guess he couldn’t talk death into a political compromise
Strange-I never noticed how small of a man he was until his coffin was carried passed
Buried on a knoll looking down to the river
He always had high aspirations

As the times etched on more processions came until finally the last original townsman was laid to rest-Olde Billy Stevens
Boy, could that boy sing like an angel in the church choir
But a hellion he was the other six days a week
He stole the virtue of many a young girl during his life
Billy had no regrets for his life
He died a deacon and his tombstone was pure Carrara marble

A hundred and two souls buried on this hill above the town that we built
Like to see the children grown and children of their own
Hey!
Who’s this?

Why, it is my grandnephew, Jonathan.
He and several other men are unloading a marble slab
Glory be!

It’s for me.  Let me put my reading specs to see this tribute

Here lies Thomas James McGee.
He was the first of the pioneers to settle this valley
To help build the town below.
Exact age unknown.
He came from Ireland 1846.
Died June 25, 1876.
Beloved of his family and the town.
May he find peace from his labors
And a place of honor in the town to which he resettled
Among the night stars which shine so bright on this cemetery
Gone but will not be forgotten

Thank you, Jonathan, you are a good boy.

Mine! You have aged greatly.
The day I died you were ten and cried for so long.
Now, you are silver haired and the Mayor of our town
Enjoy the rest of your days, boy.

See you soon.

It isn’t easy being the first citizen of a cemetery.
It’s an honor and a privilege.
Let’s not forget why we are here beneath the sod.

(Inspired by Spoon River Anthology & OUR TOWN)

G. D. Williams © 2010

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