Since April, I’ve been hard at work on a collection of poetry based on the imagined lives of people buried in the cemetery next door to my house. Many of the people about whom I’ve written died luminous deaths, or deaths full of regret and sorrow, or suddenly: death descended like a pack of dogs.

But earlier this week, after a particularly unpleasant interaction at the library where I work, with a bitter old woman who simply could not be pleased no matter how hard I tried, I realized that some people go to their graves angry, unhappy, and utterly closed off to all possible goodness in their lives. Sandra Stringer was not the woman’s name; this poem was born of a composite of the many people like her, some of whom are lying at rest or will lie at rest (hopefully at rest) in the cemetery where I walk almost daily.