Thoughts on “The Cemetery” -Rachel

I really love Elizabeth Spire’s poem “Cemetery Reef.” I always appreciate it when poets manage to tie something from the beginning of a poem into the end, making the reader think about it in a completely new way. Spires does this several times throughout “Cemetery Reef.” First, she refers to the fact that when she touched her significant other’s arm, it was “real flesh and blood”. Then, to the narrator, it seems as though hardly any time had passed before this was just a memory. In the same stanza, she says that the sand was raked “smooth like paper not yet written on”. To me, “paper not yet written on” used here is referring to the future and all of the uncertainty that this couple faces going into the future. At the end of the poem, the narrator uses the same phrases, but in a way that evokes completely different emotions. She compares the flowers left on the graves, which were white and red, to the color of “flesh and blood, of regret, of paper not yet written on”. Here, when she uses these phrase, “flesh and blood,” it seems as though she is referring to it in a way that emphasizes how finite we are as human beings, rather than reminiscing about her lover. When she says “paper not yet written on”, instead of referring to what could happen in the future, she is expressing sorrow and remorse for all of the things that were left unsaid or unfinished. This poem is really heartbreaking, and the more I read through it the more I empathized with the narrator.

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