The Unburied Graves, August 2005

Poem by Hannah Warren
Artwork by Clinton Van Inman

Those glimmers of coral might
Be the lots of some hard-luck
Town, or – depositing on the dead
A second bed –
A submerged cemetery.
            -Brad Leithauser

If you take a left off Old Gentilly Road
in New Orleans and follow the canal south,
you’ll find a rickety, old pier, riddled
with degrading, wooden planks. Look out

onto the water at dusk, find the shadow
where the moon meets the ocean, silken oil
clutching to the glowing orb that floats
just out of reach, the dichotomy

of a darkness disturbed by a refracted light.
Beneath the rippling surface
lies a buried city of unburied graves.
Solemn solitude crusts over with calcified

knowledge – do you know what the dead seek?
They wish vengeance upon Nature, the Mother
that left them behind; they search for the sun’s warmth,
the crisp, tight burn of scorched skin in August;

they long for the crunch of fallen pine cones
and the satisfaction in having climbed
a cathedral’s tower; most of all, they seek the lives
forsworn by gushing winds and the overflowing

pails of black rainwater. When
the waters are at their stillest, remember
the individual fingers that clutched to neon life
vests, and remember the wailing of mothers, the rosaries

grasped between desperate hands of fathers,
the children who clung to their parents,
reciting incomprehensible prayers. Pater noster,
qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Hannah Warren is currently an undergraduate English major at Mississippi State University. Upon graduation, she wishes to pursue a Master in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing; she is published in Nota Bene. She may be found rambling at

Clinton Van Inman grew up in North Carolina, graduated from San Diego State University in 1977, taught in South Carolina and is currently a high school teacher in Tampa Bay where he lives in Sun City Center, Florida with his wife, Elba.


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