In this stark and solemnly paced story poem, inspired by a New York Times cover photo of a young woman sitting by a military gravestone, author Alan Hilfiker introduces two characters: Old Steadman, and a young widow, each keeping vigil through a long Memorial Day. As ceremonies and patriotic speeches come and go, the widow struggles to come to terms with the loss of her husband in Afghanistan. Through memories of the past and longing for a future not to be, her grief bears witness to the cost of all lives cut short by service to country. Finally she looks to the old caretaker for an answer to the question “Why?” What is left when words and rites are not enough?
"Hilfiker’s images and metaphors throughout are arresting; one scene, for example, parallels rows of graves with the aisles at Jennifer’s wedding to great effect. The lines are short, sparse, and often anaphoric, and the use of repetition strongly reinforces Jennifer’s grief, with images coming like waves that are impossible to ignore...
A moving, haunting poem on the lasting memories and aftereffects of war that addresses heavy themes with aptness and aplomb." - Kirkus Reviews