With the superintendent and his assistant making a four of us, and each taking a ledger, 1891, 1892, we settled to our work. We had a filter, and our fingers ran down the rows, the harvest, the pity, stopping here and then to furl a page,
Every so often,
The scythe had come across, and we could, in a manner, provide an afterlife, a resurrection,
A piece of renown, or a lasting remembrance;
Conscience and hoping, against our besetting ignorance,
We knew what we were looking for, but why here
— of all the removed, benighted, places —
were we looking?
And at the end he collated our lists.
He surveyed the positions on the map, plotting with a finger in the same way as he might trace and looked out of the window,
—We can reduce our suspects to one, or at least, start there.
And then we went outside onto the sward, with its dotted whitenesses, so many gone, so many days, a number known only to the Recording Angel.
Still with sufficient evening light, we hoped our first candidate, by his skill, should prove to be our only trial.
His march was direct down the hill. Past the cast-iron infant markers, taking a gravel path, at the end sloughing through the damp grass, making darkness of our trouser legs, He was permanently counting off the lines as we went, and calculating ahead, to pronounce:
—We have found the place.
And so it was that we stood there,
At the last resting-place of Obadiah Shawcross, once of Brockley. The stone was angled a little, as a stone may be, especially in a churchyard; however, the visible ground in front of it was undisturbed.
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When No One is Looking by Hannah Shilling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.