Brett Peruzzi

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

with soot.

Will he be adding a death year?

Or is this just advance planning

by an old or sick member of

Famille Sillvaerts?

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 SiamoThe 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.