In Memoriam: Their Names | Merril D. Smith

My sisters dead now
I write their names on the church wall–
so many dead,
why, Lord, am I still here?

Cateryn, fair of face,
Amee, sweet and loving,
Jane who sang like a lark
and made me laugh—

no more

will I hear the sound
of their voices,
though my mind teases—
wasn’t that Jane’s titter I heard
at the priest’s stuttering cautions

of heaven and hell–
what does he know of it?

This my hell, my sisters gone,
the three I most adored
in this world–
where they no longer dwell.

So here, my small tribute
that in some future time
one may see their names
and wonder about this trinity

their names left here
in artless manner
but engraved indelibly
on my heart–

Cateryn, Amee, Jane
Anno 1515






This poem was inspired by the plague graffiti found on the church walls in a Cambridgeshire church.


Merril D. Smith is an independent scholar with a Ph.D. in American History and numerous books on history and gender issues. She is currently working on a book on sexual harassment and a collection of poetry. Her poetry and stories have appeared recently in Rhythm & Bones, Vita Brevis, Streetlight Press, Ghost City, Twist in Time, and Mojave Heart Review.

Her blog is at and she can be found on Twitter @merril_mds and Instagram @mdsmithnj

3 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Their Names | Merril D. Smith

  1. This has such a bittersweet, plaintive tone, Merril. I could weep at the loss of three sisters! Lovely “In Memoriam” with their names etched upon both her heart and the stone wall. . .

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