Laurence Lieberman: "Frontyard Burials"


                         FRONTYARD BURIALS

                              (Saba, Lesser Antilles)


At first dawn glimmerings, I wander up Saba's winding streets in search

   of nearest hilltop, my practice stroll to prepare for tomorrow's

      hike to the summit of Mt. Scenery. I suddenly notice a long

         fishing sloop leant on its side overhead, remarkably

            balanced at a steep cliff overhang. The ship

                      seems poised at yard margins,

            outer borders of this bluff's loftiest house.

         The only seacraft of any size I've seen in this town

      of Windwardside, and it's amazing to find so large a vessel

   over a thousand feet above sea level. Why would they store fish-

boat near a mountain top? No way to travel by ship on te steep upland


                     trails, think I, now given

            to such foolish dotings as I mindlessly (in

         truth, empty-headed) pick my way across the several

      unfenced and hedgeless garden gravesites, blindly seeking

         the top level of the southeast high corner of town.

            And I stumble into gaping wide stern of deep

                     upended craft before I know


I've scaled the embankment behind it, rolling confusedly on the floor

   planks in an effort to scramble out of capacious hold, fearful

      I may send the whole ship tumbling down steep declivity,

         myself an unwitting crewman in a free-falling boat

            plunging like a toboggan against the sky

                      (as viewed by some parkbench

            loungers far below, say), but the steady

         boat hangs tight. It holds firm in its storage rack,

      I rolling face first into a golden heliconia flower patch

   and the sniffly grunting muzzle of one cross bulldog, who takes

a nip out of my umbrella cloth held at arm's length, so as to shield


                      my vulnerable belly. And I—

            turntail—zip down the garden path chute

         swiftest descent back the way I came, and thus elude

      those slavery jaws working, scissorslike, up and down amid

         fierce bassoon growls... Now I see why no Saban home

            owners fear thieves, and frontyard burials

                      are the likely norm here.



Laurence Lieberman is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently The Divemaster: Swimming with the Immortals (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016), and three books of literary criticism.