Graveyard Legacy

Mountain Cemetary

Sequestered on a mountain knoll

among fellows stony cold,

undisturbed by curious stroll

noting epitaphs carved in bold.


Fancy characters now record

a soul’s passing from earthly state

to await their heavenly reward,

while others portend a dimmer fate.


Death ushered several here,

the ripe in age and those too small.

Now suspended time holds near

as bodies fade within their pall.


Like soldiers at attention stand

these memorials of centuries spent,

while I surveyed each tablet grand

one interrupted with humble lament.

Elijah's Headstone

Thin and odd in shape it posed

hand hewn from mountain’s lair.

Modest letters formed in rows

scratched deep with loving care.


Elijah Ested, born in 1783;

worked his land ‘til 78.

A long life you must agree

for a simple man of low estate.


Yet looking closer I can view

honor for a father lost

in each chiseled stroke so true

Sore fingers gladly bore the cost.


What legacy will we leave behind?

Only friend and family can attest,

where virtue and diligence intertwine,

until at last we take our rest.


Note: I happened upon this tiny cemetery in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, stopped to walk among the tombstones, and read each one. Some were too old for their message to be decipherable, but most dated from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. One, placed in 1918, had a small American flag stuck in the ground before it in respect for the 26 year-old killed in action during World War I.

The detail on Elijah Ested’s grave marker caught my eye. Whoever carved it did so with care. A decorative edge spanned the top. Two feathers, or palm branches, hugged the right side.

Elijah's Headstone Detail

Below them, a small face appeared. I wonder about the identity of the visage skillfully engraved there.

Elijah's Headstone Face

I can only speculate to the conditions surrounding the creation of this small monument, but the care with which someone hand carved it is noteworthy.  Not only was it a difficult job, its construction mattered deeply to someone. Over 150 years have passed and Elijah Ested’s memory lives on because of love. He must have been quite a man.

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9 thoughts on “Graveyard Legacy

  1. oh Morningjoy–this gave me chills when it appeared on my blogroller–wow–I yearn to make a trip to eastern Pennsylvania–mainly to visit the gravesite of one Captain Joseph H. Hurst who did a good good thing in an dark dark time…and I suspect these are the sorts of gravemarkers I will encounter when I finally ‘get’ there.
    –okay. what a way to be ‘reminded’ of my writing obligations….yeah. Thanks.
    –and I agree–someone really really cared much to make that effort.
    –If you appreciate such ‘caring’–I hope you visited the little site I linked to via the tea poem–smallthingspoems—because there’s a lot of ‘caring’ in the poet’s word-art—anyway. Thanks. so glad you shared this today. Needed it.

    • Thank you so much! I did visit smallthingspoems and enjoyed the American Haiku. I hope your visit to Pennsylvania is productive.

  2. Karen, beautiful and insightful words and photos – these old gravestones are each a story in themselves – as you stated Love Lives On – what a blessing — bkm

  3. I photographed a cemetery only last week. Many graves were of Civil War soldiers. Some were in bad shape, but I wanted to document the bits of fallen stone and little flags. There are many who still honor those long gone.

    A very meaningful portrayal.

    • Thank you, Bo. We must never forget those who made the greatest sacrifice for their country. I’d like to see your cemetery photos.
      I enjoy your new website, Seeded Earth. You have a way of finding interesting subjects to photograph so expertly.

  4. Wonderful photos! I discovered that the large retreat center we saw near this cemetary used to be an old Civil War hotel, so I wonder if these graves may be from the Civil War as well. Very interesting!

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