I confess a long-held affection for cemeteries.
No, my interest is not morbidity. More like spirituality, my ongoing curiosity about and interest in the other, in this case, the ultimate other, which is death.
We do not like to talk about death in our culture. We avoid it.
Of course it is the unavoidable.
I mean no disrespect, in my wandering of cemeteries. I do not trod on the headstones. I know the headstone is not where the body lies, but somehow, to me, walking across a flat headstone seems something like crossing the threshold of someone’s abode. Without so much as knocking. Or ringing the bell. Or calling out you-hoo, anybody home?
You might think of a cemetery as something like a park, with its sweeping lawns and the graceful branches of trees arching overhead. There is no children’s playground, of course, but there also tends to be less evidence of drug activity. Fewer containers of burned-out poisons left beside swing sets and merry-go-rounds. No clumps of cigarette butts indicating the crouch of a chain-smoker. And the bodies sleeping under the trees are less likely to stir.
Cemeteries parallel the larger world in many ways, our culture of death echoing our living culture.
There is biology, of course, evidence of the frailty of life. There is kinship, husbands buried next to wives and children near their parents. There is economy, class structure. There is history. There is story, and that is probably what intrigues me most of all, putting together these stories with so little to go on, names and dates and relationships. There is botany, and landscape architecture. There is civil engineering, planning, the arrangement of roads and neighborhoods. There is architecture, some of it quite complicated. There is craft, some might say art. There is the design of the headstones, as they include writing and composition and sometimes even imagery.
And there is typography:
After growing up in the desert southwest, I am particularly intrigued by this moss face:
This one provides more data in support of the theory – as yet, unproven – that all the good men are either gay or married. Or dead:
I think I would have liked to have hung out with Bus, maybe shared a beer after a game. He seems to have figured out a thing or two before he arrived at the cemetery.
With grace and affection,