by Linda Werbner

Dear old cemetery
Did I profane you
when I danced
like a Deadhead as the acid’s just hitting
spinning and shimmying
Among the long-departed Brahmins of Marblehead and Salem
the city fathers and mothers and their stillborn children
the sober ministers with wooden teeth
all rotted away in their pine boxes
their names barely legible on the granite, the marble
If I did, well, I’m not sorry
You see, there’s a plague afoot
and I needed to dance
Brothers, sisters
Your lives were short and full of trouble
as they say in the blues
But I’m alive!
You see, there’s a plague afoot
and I needed to dance
Sure, I could get cut down just like you
Mary Hart, the minister’s wife,
who died in her 34th year
Or you, Benjamin Craddock, cord wainer,
from some virus, some micro-organism
that resembles a meatball covered in scarlet begonias
In fact, that was the name of the Grateful Dead tune
coming through my ear-buds
as I danced my profane and joyous dervish
in the empty graveyard tonight
as the sun set over Salem Harbor.

Linda Werbner is a Salem-based writer whose day job is providing telehealth counseling to this addled world. Her work has appeared in Quail Bell and Oddball Magazine. To decompress, she plays clawhammer banjo tunes about groundhogs and drinking whiskey before breakfast and makes quilts for friends and family. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.