Poetry: “Samaritans” by Christopher Scribner

The speckled fawn walks among them; as she nibbles earnestly at the foliage, the shade of her body throws the tombstones’ dates into shadow. There’s splendor in the sharply-angled morning light. I imagine my own granite marker, its last line unfilled. In life’s sadness the days pass slowly, the years quickly; each year I keep my birthday quiet; each one unacknowledged pushes that last line of engraving lower down the slab. Yes. And, pushed low enough, the end-date will be covered by the growing grass, and disappear from view.

A stranger gave me a lift after my car died en route to my mother’s funeral. Later, in the procession to her gravesite, unsettled and bleary, I gaze out the window. Alongside the road another stranger, an old man in a black coat and fedora, walks slowly through the fog, limping slightly, leaning toward the side of his cane. As the hearse passes by, the man in the black coat turns, removes his hat, presses it to his breast, and respectfully bows his head. Better than I, he knew what to do.