The Little Girl Who Danced in the Graveyard – by Ken Hines

Watering my mother’s freshly seeded
grave, I am alone among the unliving
until her giggles electrified the air. She danced
among the skeletal trunks of crepe myrtles,
her jeans a pink blur, her soaring pigtails
exclamation marks in the gloom.

If only she’d been circled by loving smiles
beneath sun hat brims and joined by man-sized
cheers filling the air—a choral salute
for this sendoff and coming-home, young
and old celebrating what they cannot see
as though it’s as certain as gravity and pain.

All I saw, of course, were stink-eyed grownups
shushing her with glares, the girl now captive
behind her mother’s black skirt. So I coiled
the garden hose around my elbow and palm
and finished my last chore in silence, the echo
of that farewell resounding in my ears.


Poems by Ken Hines have appeared in a number of literary magazines. A couple of them were recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology. He lives in Virginia with his wife, the painter Fran Hines.