In Memoriam

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for Joseph Tufariello, 1909-1980

In Queens and Brooklyn churchyards
Your monuments still stand.
Maybe you were the mason
Who formed the lifted hand

Of this arresting angel
Telling of things to come,
That smooth-faced Union soldier
Beating his tilted drum,

This Mary cradling Jesus.
That shepherd with a staff—
Were you the one who carved him
Above an epitaph

Whose serifs rain has softened?
Your name was never here
To blur in wind and weather,
Wear down and disappear;

But the memorial sculptures
You hammered into grace,
Unautographed, outlive you.
A fold of cloth, a face

Emerged from slabs of granite
While fine dust fogged the air,
Filling your lungs and sifting
Like ash into your hair,

Bringing your own death with it.
A mason’s work endures:
Though nothing wears your marking,
Everything here is yours.

For you, who chiseled roses
And lilies lithe as flame,
Anonymous saints and angels,
I sign our stony name.