I am attracted to cemeteries. Two days ago, a friend led me to an abandoned cemetery at old Hardrock Station. He and a companion had liberated twelve graves from the bush with chain saw and axe. Now Chris had come to plant home-made crosses of treated wood.
Someone long ago had fashioned make-shift markers for nine of the graves. The long-ago guardian of the graves had apparently salvaged aluminum pipes from lawn chairs, sawed them up, drilled holes in appropriate places, inserted bolts, and planted the tiny crosses on each grave. The arrangement of markers and a mound suggested the location of a tenth grave.
A once-white picket fence, still intact, enclosed the eleventh grave. Here’s the thing for me as a writer: I do not think of cemeteries as places of tragedy. I regard them as expressions of love. When I stand in a cemetery, I am overwhelmed by the aura of love. As I write this, the tears flow.
Only one grave, the twelfth grave, has left a conventional record for posterity. Loving hands fashioned a crude cross of concrete, and etched a message – in characters as esoteric as hieroglyphics. Here it is:
The characters are crudely drawn, and in the last line in particular, typescript does not render the marks accurately.
In retrospect, I can see that my feelings about graves, never articulated before this moment, found expression in my as-yet-unpublished novel, The Beardmore Relics.
Now I feel compelled to write more novels.