Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Doll in the Graveyard

Graveyards are among my favorite places ever.

Some people prefer pubs or taverns, or bright sunny fields, though these days there seem to be few meadows left.  I've heard great things about concert halls and amusement parks.  And don't misunderstand, I also love museums, art galleries, and campuses.  But most any night, give me a quiet night with silent trees and eggshell-white stones that tell the tales of the dead.

Let me dance there skyclad when it storms, let me wander the broken walks in the crisp summer air.  Let me listen to the birds explode in flocks from the green trees when I venture too near, watch rabbits dance in the moonlight, smell the moist earth of a place between Here and There.

And sometimes, just sometimes, my closest friends join me there.

The oldest graves are to the left, along a small creek that chuckles to itself and says its name is Styx.  Often untended, sometimes broken, stones from other centuries watch the Quick come and go.  I wash my hands in the water of a forgotten fountain and dry them on my clothes.  I respect my elders.

Sometimes I bring tobacco or sage, other times flowers.  I leave them one by one, speaking the names of those who have gone before.  Then I wander along the winding roads, past the dedications and titles, military ranks and winged forms, to the very back.  There I look to the mausoleums: dark, locked, and still.

Sometimes I do yoga.

For years now, there has been a small china doll at the door of my favorite house.  Her hair black as sack cloth, her eyes sapphire, skin delicate and slowly yielding to the seasons.  Her pinafore dress befitted a young lady, her lips, once ruby red, faded to a dark rose.  And she sat, back to the door's edge, and we greeted as we passed.  Here was no accident, no bauble left behind and lost in a child's careless moment.  This was an offering.  And she stayed there, watching the trees and sky, for years.

When I visited my refuge last, the little guardian was gone.  Only the old crypt and I knew, the stone showing the place where she had kept her tiny vigil.

It is always possible, I suppose, that someone simply took the doll for want of anything better to do.  Or that someone who was newly employed as grounds-keeper mistook her steadfastness for a bauble tossed aside. But I know that there are many households in my neighborhood with no real money to spare.  And so I prefer to think that perhaps a child, having no beautiful china doll of her own, took her home in complete innocence and treasured her.  For flowers only grow freely on meadows and graves, and the dead begrudge nothing to children.


(Graveyard pic courtesy of  All rights reserved by their rightful owners.)

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