Anne Whitehouse

In the Necropolis

Old Cemetery by Gyula Derkovits

In the cemetery of Beit She’arim
inside a tomb from the third century
paved with mosaic
and decorated with wildlife reliefs
is carved an inscription
commemorating a local resident.
The author, though Jewish, had a Greek style:
I lie, son of Leontius dead, son of Sappho,
who after having gathered of the fruit
of all wisdom left the light.
Woe is me, in my Beit She’arim.
After having gone to Hades,
I, Justus, lie here with many of my relatives
for that is what powerful fate has decreed.
Be consoled, Justus. No one is immortal.
Dark is the house without windows.
Dust is the only weather in the tomb.
Indifferent as a reflecting moon,
a green moth flitted over the stone,
then lay for a long moment on the ground.


About the writer:
Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016). She has also written a novel, Fall Love, which is now available in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes by Compton Press. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City.

Image: Old Cemetery by Gyula Derkovits (1894-1934). Oil on canvas. 29.7 x26.7 inches. 1922. Public domain.