The Stone Cutter at Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Jim Morrison has his own security guard,
while twenty feet away three French teens
sit on a bench solemnly listening
to Light My Fire on a boombox
as they pass a joint around.
His neighbors include Amadeo Modigliani,
Oscar Wilde, and Frederic Chopin.
But as we walk to the Metro
we see a stone cutter
on his knees at a family headstone
taller than him adding
a new name at the bottom
with a mallet and chisel,
the stone as he chips away
so clean, almost white,
unlike the older names
above it, etched black
Will he be adding a death year?
Or is this just advance planning
by an old or sick member of
The stone cutter kneels
on a cushion to save his bones
from the stone base of the monument.
He hunches forward, face just inches from
the beveled capital letters in a serif font
that emerge as if from a slow motion typewriter.
It feels like we’re watching history
being written, one painstaking letter
at a time.
Brett Peruzzi lives in Framingham, Massachusetts. His poems and prose have previously appeared in Ovunque Siamo, The Boston Globe, Exquisite Corpse, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Amethyst Magazine, Soul-Lit, Boston Poetry Magazine, Two Hawks Quarterly, Gloom Cupboard, and other publications. His family came to Quincy, Massachusetts, near Boston, at the beginning of the twentieth century from the Rome area and the province of Lucca in Tuscany. Both branches of the family worked in Quincy’s granite industry, eventually owning their own businesses, which specialized in cemetery headstones and other monuments.