Friday, October 12, 2012

On Cemeteries

Share a memory of a cemetery, Carl prompted.  Okay then...

What particular memory comes to mind when thinking about graveyards? No singular one, at least none more prominent than another. I see myself standing at the top of the dangerous hill where Gish Cemetery is located, overpopulated and old. I remember the cold October day of just a year ago, when the ground was opened and my absent father was placed therein for keeping. I remember the same cemetery welcoming in a middle aged Marine, twenty-one guns and all. I remember a different place—Bethlehem Cemetery—some years earlier, Keisha’s dad, tears, shock, grief. In the small towns, a funeral is often a community involvement.

But not all memories are of tragedies and passings. I spent many summers helping my uncle keep a massive cemetery cleaned. My job was always weed-eating around the headstones, a painstaking task, stooping over at every stone and picking up the artificial flowers, swinging in the weed-eater, replacing the flowers, and repeat times a million. Long into the gloaming we’d work, my uncle on the mower, my brother and I with weed-eaters. Good money, though.

Or the time Keisha and I stopped on the side of the road to go off into the woods and find a supposedly very old cemetery. We walked through the woods, curious explorers. We found the place, segregated from the encroaching woods by a fence and nothing more. We spent some time contemplating the graves, searching out the oldest dates and obscurest names, all the while freaking ourselves out more and more. It wasn’t t

Or the place out way back in the woods behind the projects. We’d ride our bikes all throughout the town as teens, leaving no lands unexplored. An abandoned and demolished house, one like you’d imagine a witches hut, a smattering of broken tombstones around the place.

Or the seashell topped graves, sunken deep into the ground, cracked with fissures like canyons. To our young eyes we imagined we were seeing bones inside those cracks.

Or the first time I saw solar powered lights glowing at night along Highway 181, eldritch and sinister. My heart took a fright to that one, and I still feel a spook whenever I see the eerie lights at night. They’re like modern day will-o’-the wisps.

There’s no single memory of a cemetery that comes readily to mind for me. Most prominently in my mind is Gish Cemetery, the one closest to my old stomping grounds. It’s where I figured I’d end up, at least physically, but now I’m doubtful of that one. But who knows. I’m a proponent for cremation, though Keisha informs me every time I bring that up that if I go first that’s not going to happen. Alas…


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Anonymous said...

I think it is interesting how much of the end image when a word like "graveyard" or "cemetery" comes to mind is made up of a collection of impressions rather than some solid translation of one actual site.

setting off through woods to find an old graveyard sounds like pretty atmospheric fun. the abandoned house with the "broken tombstones about the place" would've had to been a group dare for me.


logankstewart said...

Excellent observation, L. And how much of life is like that, things defined by impression upon impression rather than one event. Good stuff.