My Playground

I know few people who have lived next to a cemetery.

Yet in my youth it was my playground.

In the country it lay placidly under the Kansas sky

Surrounded by undulating fields of wheat.

The huge, red brick church was the foundation

Whose bells rang out for Sunday services

Heard only by the silent many entombed

Within its consecrated ground.

The founders and members of the church’

Were my companions as I romped

Amongst the gravestones, oblivious

Of what they might have thought.

I was not intimidated by their tranquility.

I had the songs of meadowlarks,

The hum of bees, the  whisper of the

Wind that stirred the nearby grain.

The stones characterized my friends.

A picture embedded in the granite

Brought to life a gentle mother,

Or a face of stern authority.

And even without a picture as a guide

Markers revealed the character

Of my muted playmates;

Angels carved into stone,

The dates of birth and passing,

A favorite Bible verse,

Immovable sprays of flowers;

Lilies, daises, and roses.

I climbed, decorated, and rode

Imaginary horses made of stone.

I was respectful, never stepping on a grave,

And therefore, I always felt welcomed.

A small child and her dog

Bringing life to those who has passed.

Did they listen for my childish songs?

Feel my feet dance over the grass?

Appreciate my gifts of wildflowers

Gathered from the nearby ditches?

The cemetery was a safe place.

No one there abused me, berated me,

Complained about my enthusiasm

As I chased butterflies during the day

And fireflies during the night.

My playground was a place of peace

And when I return to visit as an adult,

To visit those of my family

Buried there, I treasure the moments

That I had as a child when the

Cemetery was my playground.