James McKee Rogers
1836 – 1900
I offer up this epitaph as an ode instead,
An ode of love, affection and gratitude
To Whittier, my true home away from my one true home.
I dedicate this plain and humble song
To finding this paradise in the mustard fields
To finding peace and serenity in these kindly hills here,
Hills shaded by a thousand trees
In truth, trees planted for purposes unstated and unspoken,
Trees used for hiding the human follies and frolics
Of my brothers and sisters in the faith
Acts of hidden intimacies not seen by the eyes of the Quaker elders.
My friends, you cannot imagine the beauty of the sunrise
Here in my beloved Whittier
The erect beauty of one particular sunrise
On a summer’s morning in 1889.
I remember Hattie and me riding double in the heights
Scanning the far-away Pacific blue
Scanning the infinite translucence of a million heartbeats.
Down, down the ever-spreading, ever-descending landscape.
Up there in the heights we found a special magic,
Found the crash of cymbals and the bang of a thousand drums!
Found the flight of a thousand eagles and
The stampede of a hundred wild horses!
And so my friends, and
To Whittier, I say adieu!
Adieu and goodbye to a life of repeating days and nights
Of forgotten repeating conversations
With dozens of old friends now dead and gone.
The worms of Clark Cemetery know them all
Know of the hidden intimacies not seen by the living.
They have found propitiation for the sins of mankind.