Tag Archives: cemetery

Spring Flowers, Summer Stones

Dylan Loves Sarah


Spring in the southeast lasts for all of about two weeks. Seasons in Middle Georgia typically divide into summer, less-hot summer, a month of winter weather the rest of the world would call fall, and spring. You know spring has come because you see flowers everywhere, then two weeks later they all die, and you’re stuck in the steaming taint of summer for another six months.


Since spring is little more than a cruel tease in this part of the country, you see people walking everywhere. We’re all hungry to experience this bizarre twilight time when the sun is shining but isn’t simultaneously flash frying us. Cold drinks don’t sweat until you’ve had a few good swallows. You sweat but only after earning it by walking a few blocks.


I make sure to meet my springtime quota by going for frequent walks in the local cemetery. That might sound morbid, but this deep into Baptist country cemeteries are basically public parks with occasional tombstones. The air is rich with the smell of azaleas and honeysuckle, and birds sing like they’ve broken into your speed stash. Artsy college women in sundresses take photos, and married couples walk their dogs while holding hands. The atmosphere is slightly less foreboding than an episode of Arthur.


If you go deep enough into the place you quickly run across graffiti written by teenagers in love. On a huge tomb by the railroad tracks a boy named Dylan once scrawled his affection for a girl named Sarah. In an enclosed area by a local crypt, it’s not unusual to find condom wrappers. Sometimes you even find underwear, tossed into the brush in the heat of passion and lost forever to the dark of the sweaty, grunting night. There’s a tree by a creek, deep into the graveyard, that is covered from roots to branches in carved initials encased in hearts.


I find all this absolutely beautiful. Sometimes people like to pretend it’s strange that anyone would get romantic in the cemetery, because we’re a species of idiots. If you honestly don’t get why a dark space hidden from authoritative eyes would appeal to horny teenagers, then I have an exciting time share opportunity for you to invest in.


I always get sappy when I see all the color and clues of affection out there. Out in the gentle quiet, my thoughts set in time to the rumble of a nearby passing train, I’m hit with the poignant thought that we all need each other, and we’re given only so many years to grope in the dark for each other’s hands. That might sound sad but it doesn’t strike me that way. I get a feeling of challenge at the thought. My heart pounds and my arms tingle. With the challenge comes the prospect for adventure.


I’ll stay until the light begins to fade, and cars turn away onto the main road. Here, paradoxically, there is so much life. Tall flowers shimmer in the breeze. Trees rustle as squirrels build their homes. A teenage couple holds hands. They walk between old tombstones, their footfalls cushioned by young and vibrant grass.



Filed under Miscellaneous, Non-Fiction




When I get off work I walk down the street for a coffee. The sky is overcast, silver with clumps of smoky grey, like ore. The wind is picking up when I reach my car. It’s the second day of autumn and the temperature has dropped accordingly. I drive out of downtown with my window down, and listen to Dire Straights as I wade through red lights.

I park beside the main gate of the local cemetery and walk in. The ring of trees around the area muffles a lot of the city noise, so that the murmur that remains simply recedes into subconscious white noise the deeper you go. A power digger sits unmanned by a fresh grave. I climb a hill leading to a massive willow tree. The wind spikes, and my face tickles as leaves brush my cheek. I have to remind myself that those probably aren’t whispers I’m hearing under here.

Deeper into the cemetery, I pass two girls taking photos of the stones. They look too young to be in college, and I do my best to look non-threatening, the lone man stalking the dead. I sip my coffee, fiddle with my phone, and keep moving.

The cemetery is huge, and rolls across hills until it cuts off against a set of train tracks. At the tracks I go left, until I find a space outfitted with tombs the size of most houses. There’s one here I favor, when I need to think alone. It looks like a small concrete cottage, and there are stone chairs nearby surrounding a table. Generations ago, family members of the deceased would dine here during picnics. In the American South, cemeteries were once regarded like public parks.

Globalization, however, has made this open space as creepy as any other spot where human bodies are put to rot, and I sit alone. A stream burbles by a little ways off, and a heavy oak shades me from the swirling clouds. It’s practically nightfall where I sit, though sundown isn’t for another five hours.

The leaves sound like whispers again. The wind is so anxious even the grass is wavering. An ice cream wrapper flits past, then snags in the crack of a tombstone set to the earth two centuries ago. The treetops are thrown side to side. I hear thunder.

In the trunk of my car sits a test prep book, still stiff in its plastic wrapping. Underneath it is a voucher for half the cost of the fee normally charged when you take the GRE. There are lukewarm letters of reference and research work that smacks of community college.

I silently repeat to myself how much more I have than most, but my heart is beginning to race and my hands shake. I put the coffee down and light a cigarette, failing for several moments until I force myself to focus on the orange flame. I draw the smoke in a practiced breath, and when the ash is halfway down the butt I shake a thick white pill from a prescription bottle. I down it with coffee. Between that and the nicotine, I won’t confuse the wind for whispers, at least until morning.

The anxiety attack is waning. The wind is only wind. A cold sting lights upon my neck. I look to the train tracks, and watch the long brush wave to the rushing clouds.

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Filed under Fiction