I wrote a poem recently for a memorial service for those Millers who were originally buried in the above-pictured mausoleum. They were re-interred this past summer as part of efforts to reconstruct and save the building. I publish the poem now in remembrance of my father’s youngest sister who passed away this month.
I can’t imagine ever losing my sister…
May my aunt be at peace.
A warm summer afternoon maybe 40 years ago
Sounds of cicadas, and the occasional car on a surprisingly close road
Deep silence nearest the looming fortress,
. . . vibrant ivy embracing, strangling steel-gray cement
Thick-walled windows led to ink-black shade inside, cool, seashell hush
. . . Intrigued
. . . Wide-eyed
Yes, scared, and careful not to let my sister and cousins see it!
An historical marker of an era and a family
Built in a time when the Missouri sky was even bigger,
. . . and the men who lived under it were severely larger than life,
. . . when pioneers and settlers were the recent past
Intended as a home for Civil War relics and religious images on display
Those are all gone, but the mausoleum remains,
. . . still a reminder to travelers along 131
of depth and age and mortal immortality.
A generational milestone for Millers and Cranfills and more
Manmade by an ancestor’s hand,
. . . a true labour of love for Joseph,
. . . a measure and lasting symbol of his faith and fortitude
Sourced from a heart filled with obedience to his God,
. . . and love for Miller descendants unborn.
Reverence for the margin between life and death
A solemn place of rest to honor what was,
. . . what’s gone,
. . . and what may come after
Offering both mourning and solace,
Eerie quiet at midnight, soft magic in the morning light.
Initially a haven from the waters of the earth
A decades-long project with a mission to protect
Now an anchor that has threaded a familial connection,
. . . from a great-great-great-grandfather,
. . . through to today’s youngest generation
And, thanks to Cousin Carl, that promises anew to connect Millers yet to come.