In Remembrance of the 1,129

by Carolin Messier

State Capital

Again, the artist’s graveyard fills the lawn
headstones in colors of
blood, sorrow, fear, and tears.
Eighteen more than the year before.
Eighteen more lives lost to despair.
Eighteen more than the year you died
from anxiety and shame.

Last year I walked alone among the rows
headstones in colors of
drowning, hanging, drugs, and guns.
All empty earth and unnamed,
a bouquet of words, vibrant and weeping,
I laid a poem at your grave
at the edge of a thousand more.

It seems hopeless, this mournful swelling of
headstones in colors of
husbands, wives, children, and friends.
Eighteen more than the year before.
Eighteen more lives lost to despair.
Eighteen more than the year you died
—will it ever end?

 

*1129 is the number of people who died by suicide in the State of Washington in 2015.  The rows of grave markers were installed on the lawn of the State Capital by Forefront to raise awareness of suicide and to advocate for suicide prevention and legislation with that aim.