Advent Day at Mumford Quarry Nursery

Gray flagstone steps, mean staggered discard graves
on which engravers botched a line or date,
or split the granite's flaw; a stream-cut groove's
water slows; headstones prop an iron grate
through which the azure pool drains inhuman
cold; but green of mistletoe and holly
wreaths sell briskly, sold by the home for men,
who seem unmindful of the pitched, hilly
walks; speechless, they seem yet unamazed
as they fetch poinsettia by the armfuls,
or mulch, for those who look beyond the fall
come to solstice dark and these fallow days.
Alms or extravagance of creme de menthe—
write it off to get us by lean months.