Lilies lie limp at the foot of a gravestone. This touch of color has but faded all too quickly. Made inert by these winter sands of time, the flowers are shriveled and wrinkled, color fading, becoming covered by the blizzard God reigns from above. Amen. Let it be so. So that in this moment in time, wherever nature is peeking her head, we shall cover it with a brutal slap on the wrist letting her know it’s just not time yet. Old Man Winter hasn’t had his fill. It is peaceful in the graveyard, save for the Grim Reaper toward the edge of the property, blasting heavy metal and raising his scythe to the beat. In his Halloween Scream mask and wobbles his head back and forth, his black hood close to lifting off. An airplane engine interrupts the silence soaring beyond, yet so far away from touching heavens. This separation of body and soul. These people will never walk again, or open their eyes, or speak. They are dead forever. Like these lilies on the grave, they will decompose and become dust, so that when spring does come ’round, all evidence will be erased of their existence here. Feast for air and worms.
Vivid colors in broad paintbrush strokes give the painting away, half covered under a bed sheet and tarp in the corner of the dusty storage room. It is large and massive and tucked away behind a clutter of objects. The golden glint of its frame gives it away. Some long forgotten Still Life treasure they thought they’d never find. It has been held hostage in this haunted room this whole time. Touched by ghosts and rotting under the air of oxygen exposure. The paint has tuberculosis and the fruit depicted in it begins to rot and cough. Sliced open cantaloupe, cut right down the middle exposing orange flesh and seeds. It would do everyone well to have slice; This room is hot and humid and oppressive. Dusty attic in a wealthy home so there are windows facing the front lawn, but no one can see into them from the outside. Every step is a creak, every shift a cacophonous movement. Like a bad hangover with the gain turned all the way up that the sound is clipping to my eardrums. Vibrations course through my body. Jumanji-incarnate. Child’s worst nightmare. Terrifying versatility. The painting cannot escape and I am too small to carry it out. The house is set for demolition. I cannot stop it so we must quickly open this roof.
Shallow grave, dug up grey dirt. Window into winter. This ashy dust is nothing compared to the nutrient-dense soil of the farmland, back where I call home. This is all sand in an hourglass, bumping up against doubts of the afterlife. When I pick it up, it runs right through my fingers. But the dirt in the fields, I could feel its pulse, roll it over in my hands until it crumbled and fell on top of seeds just freshly planted, not even yet conscious of their wombs. Damp and moist dirt, promising a fruitful crop, not this dust in a New England backyard, graveyard. This church field is full of bodies and they will not grow fruitfully, but rot under brutal winter wins and a later sweltering sun. Their coffins will biodegrade and erode and warp. The air will get in. Opposite space cockpit targeting some distant star. Gone off course with no map. Dead compass. The rhythm hitch and lift of the old shovel, rusty spade and splintery wooden handle. Arms cross over the chest. No golden pharaoh.
Another beach day baking in the sunshine. Seagulls cry out as we roll a cooler with much difficulty through the sand, creating some dual-lined path from the boardwalk to our sitting spot. The sea is calm, it is low tide. Like, the waves are whispering a secret and I just happen to be there to listen. The lifeguard sits stoic in sunglasses, unenthused. No one’s in the water, so it’s just this moving glass masterpiece. The sand burns my pale feet like hot coals. A towel lays on the surface, rough-hewn and also hot. When I come back in from the water, it will not be enough to dry me off. The saltwater air clears my lungs. Jersey Shore on holiday, key to a little R&R. I put the key in the ignition, driving down the Parkway is where the vacation starts. Good music and iced coffee with a bakery or croissant breakfast. Something different, something rich, something new. Something about not wanting to call it a day, to stay out there all night to keep our spot claimed. Depression going home. The sun at my back as I wheel the cooler back to the car. Hoping we haven’t gotten a parking ticket, hoping the meter didn’t run out.
Edgar Allen Poe somber poem written in black ink, still wet – not yet dried – scribed on parchment paper, papyrus. The itching scratching of that raven feather against the grainy table, as candle wax drips down slowly, spilling from the pool accumulated near the circumference of the wick. It is a solitary light and it is all I need to continue setting this scene. The air is musty and still, filled with humidity and the heat of a thousand summer days, even in fall on the prelude to winter it doesn’t get quite as cold as quickly. There is a caw from outside this darkened window. As if the raven knows of these hate crimes and is asking for its feather back; Or perhaps the feather of a fallen brother or sister. Little does this bird know that this feather has been already adulterated by humans. It is a writing tool now, disconnected. This constant cycle of man using nature to his benefit, which I suppose makes sense but is still tragic in a way. The candle reflects weakly in the glasspane of the open window. A clock strikes midnight and bellows out its tune, its information, its mechanical certainty. The bird caws and again, raising its wings and taking off to its nest to return in the morning and haunt this space. A gentle breeze works its way in through the opening, but it brings no comfort.