This place is punishment for our oldest sin,
but it’s not a bad spot to end: the Wilmington
frames the azaleas and statuary, and avenues of oaks
draped with long moss provide reprieve
from the ragged field and oystershell road.
But since it is a place where journeys mostly cease,
we should accept its glad tidings as we go,
the cheery bon voyage, the good fortune its name commends.
It’s not as though we’re bound somewhere else or on vacation;
death may be a new undertaking, but it’s not a new business
for which we should be wished “good luck in your new location.”
It is, as we’ve always known, where the leather pays the toll;
it is where after the war Muir stalled on his thousand-mile walk
from Indiana to the Keys.
________________________Blind for a month,
he saw things in the darkness, how his life must change.
And what he saw, he saw again where the salt marsh
gave way to plantation and then these graves.
Waiting for money, he found himself
amid thickets of sparkleberry and for five nights
took his rest among the speechless dead
_______where he first dreamed the West.