dead people houses

January 12, 2015


It’s the most peaceful I’ve been in fucking forever.

I still felt like death because when do I not feel like death? but it was quiet and the wind was riffling gently at my skin and it was that perfect temperature for what I was wearing, neither too hot nor too cold. there was open space in all directions and birdsong in the trees. stray light fell in the shadows like someone had dropped bits of sun. the grass was damp and I sat myself down between two aisles of gravestones, a little way from where the grass swooped into a neat green bowl lined with markers, arranged like an orchestra. it wasn’t quite eight in the morning. in the distance, between two trees, I could see water.


I went for a walk at six. the air smelled good outside and I have a thing for very early mornings and late afternoons, when light makes itself visible as more than just that thing that helps you see other things. picked up some sustenance at a nearby bakery and followed the gold light down a road, blinded and glad of it, glad for the smell of morning and wishing I’d left earlier, before the sun had properly come along. light made itself known everywhere, in every shadow, every hedge. I kept heading towards the sun, walking through the blocks of industrial lots, crossing train lines twice, stopping to look at whatever came my way- plastic garden chairs flung carelessly across a table, drenched in pohutakawa red; the reflection of clouds and houses in glass, blackbirds perched on white blocks, that everywhere brightness turning the smooth limbs of trees into paintings of themselves. lichen, grey-green and rough against a branch smooth as an arm.

it was hard to look. it hurt. the beauty of it genuinely distressed me. I’ve never had that happen before, genuinely hurting and unable to look too long because something is lovely. being distressed by loveliness. I’m not happy with this. I see beauty everywhere, notice it the way I notice the crookedness of fonts, the way I notice mispellings without trying; I see beauty because it is there to see, and I usually enjoy looking for it. but today it hurt me and I spent the next little while trying to figure out why as I wandered, peering through factory windows, thinking about how one lives with chronic pain, chatting with God and getting slowly worse.

by the time I reached the crossing, I was feeling horrible as fuck and my swearing had scaled up significantly, but I saw the sign that said cemetery and was immensely cheered. the morbid symbolism of hanging out in a cemetery apparently amuses me when I feel like death, and so I waded my way through new-mown grass and across a vast expanse of field, at one at the same time in very sweary pain and enjoying the warmth of the sun and the quietness of the park. a man jogged by with a dog. the lines of the pitch were faded. I made use of many convenient you-are-here maps and found an old stone building with 1948 on a crest, sun-warmed and silent. there were beheaded dandelion leaves on the pitch making odd and jumbled patterns in the grass, and a great big stone fucker of a wall rose in the far distance. when I headed towards it I saw a glimpse of green in a gap.

the cemetery was quiet and lovely. the clouds were too. I’m not afraid of dead people; envious, maybe. cemeteries are restful places. so after some uncertain wandering and the discovery that reading the tombstones made me feel worse, I found a long stretch of grass that probably didn’t have bodies underneath it, discovered the grass was wet by sitting on it, and rested.

I didn’t want to leave. I felt like death, but it was also the most peaceful place I’ve been in forever. the light wind reminded me of the presence of God. I sang a little. decided that the most convenient place to kill oneself would be a police station or a morgue, not a cemetery, unless you climbed into an occupied coffin first. rested my head on my knees and breathed. never wanted to leave.

next time I’m bringing a picnic blanket and taking a nap there. nobody’s gonna disturb me at a military cemetery.


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