Mary

I’ve taken to graveyards the way I formerly took to church. The quiet prevails over busy streets; it makes its own place, feeds a part of me that needs feeding. I’m guessing that most of the souls buried there probably aren’t saints, but I apprehend their brotherhood. In this case, sisterhood; there appeared to be a number of nuns in the company. W.S. Merwin wrote, in a poem titled “Epitaph”: Death is not information. / Stone that I am, / He came into my quiet / And I shall be still for him. I feel something like that. What I know is their stillness. Maybe they are at peace, maybe they are not. I hope, at the very least, they are remembered. Going there is like church because I remember them. I remember death. I sense its place in everything the living do. Leonardo da Vinci wrote (in a personal diary I believe, around the time that he was painting the difficult commission of St. Jerome in the Wilderness), “While I thought I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” I’m sure this seems dark and melancholy on my part, and it is, a little. I’ve had a rather dark and melancholy day, which is probably what occasions these thoughts. Thankfully. Because this is as close as I get to meditation. The trick is not sinking too far or lashing out. Did okay on the former, not so well on the latter.

Yesterday G and I crossed Cleveland Avenue to explore another cemetery. We found this Mary there and were quite taken. G went so far as to demand being lifted so that he could touch her. A kind, kind face. Large praying hands. The stone weathered dark and lighter in places. Her peaceful brow. I’d like her to pray over my grave one day.

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