I know it is coming, and I think about it almost every day. The door closing, the life ending. The peace to know that I cannot change a thing and the acceptance to say that I have had a good life: I have lived and I have loved, and in turn I have been loved and lived my life as best I could with others, with my family and friends. A door is closing, but I am thankful it was ever open at all.
A repost of one of my favourite photographs that I’ve taken, probably from a few years ago now.
There is nothing better than reading in the great outdoors, even if it is just a park in the centre of a city or a cemetery in a small forgotten town. It is the swaying of the branches overhead, the lapping of the water against the sandbank, the rustle of the leaves next to my ear, the invisible wave of the wind on my shoulder, the chill of an autumn day going up my spine, or it is the heat of a summer’s afternoon that cause me to perspire, that makes me feel physically connected to the landscape of where I am at that moment, at that time.
All in all the ever-changing outdoor world is a beautiful environment in which to become enveloped by novels and travel books. For me it makes me feel as if I am taking part in the piece of writing that I am reading, the coldness of the winter morn draws me closer to the humanity that is expressed by the written word. There is no other media quite like a good simple book, humble in its origin but irreplaceable by its loss.
Crooked arms and broken bones,
Upturned stones and random loads,
Hope glitters eternal.
Steel sharp serrated blade,
Magenta hues and confused blues,
Tears flow eternal.
Ignored tomes and silent moans,
Confused howls and incandescent tones,
Lust echoes eternal.
I thought I knew you, thought I loved you, thought I needed you. Hoping it remained true I see that you are thinner, empty now, a cold abyss at the centre where there was once warmth, affection and love. Crocodile friends welcome you home, cry tears over your return but journeys never end, the past is never the same, the future is always open. But still something has gone, a spark has been doused and your actions are muted. In this one room cell of mine I will think of your love always, those warm hands and sacred kisses, the ever-so fleeting sensation of skin on skin.
It was a fine calm day to prepare my last meal. It was peaceful, a time where most families would be preparing their roast dinners at a time of festivity. I had the place to myself.
The delicate leaves on the nearby row of silver birches fluttered in the the light breeze, a natural calming wind chime for the living.
Some say that eating in the open air unleashes the taste buds, that the fresh air invigorates the tongue itself. Others say that it makes our ancestral mind recall the eating of flesh outside in the open, that the brain releases neurochemicals of pleasure because of this ancient recollection.
I could not care less. Eating in the open was delicious, pure and simple.
I had prepared the table, cleaned it carefully and laden the surface with the finest embroidered cloth I could buy. The cutlery was the best silver I could lay my hands on, the table set for two.
The main course, venison slow cooked with red wine jus, was waiting speared on a silver tray. It was perfectly cut, thin slices of pure lean meat.
I was surrounded by good friends, long since dead and remembered only in stone.
With the first bite of the meat the juices ran down the side my mouth, tinged red. I closed my eyes and slowly ate a soft delicious slice of a beautiful creature.
The sun was shining and my heart was howling. I had come to eat my dignity.
I love this cemetery, but don’t bury me here. Take me somewhere far away, where the trees are evergreen and the sky a deep azure blue.
As I read a book* in the cemetery today I’d thought I’d take a few photographs of the place. The trees, for me, make this a place of refuge, hemmed in from the hustle and bustle of the nearby streets. It is not the hustle and bustle of people, but of cars, of individual machines that speed along the tarmacked roads and have no tale to tell save the speed and fury of the human race. This place, on the other hand, hums with life, with the numerous species of birds calling to each other with stories of love, with the rabbits eating freely on the grass, with the insects teeming over every stone, with the dogs and cats amiably walking around, and the people, the people walking slowly, deep in thought. I love this place, I have read innumerable books here, wrote letters to friends here, took girlfriends for walks here, learnt to ride my bike here, and yes, I visit old friends, people I have known who have died, here.
In all seasons, in the full cycle of the blinding heat of the full on rays of the sun to the showers of the ice and snow, I have visited and loved this place. I am lucky to live here in this area, that much I know, where the shades of humanity’s gray dour buildings are offset by the colours of nature herself. This is a place that I love.
* The excellent ‘One Hundred Days of Solitude’ by Gabriel García Márquez. I adored his novel ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ and his short stories, and when I saw ‘One Hundred…’ in a bookstore (we still have those, just) recently I couldn’t resist buying the book, that I felt to be lost in Márquez’s world of magic realism once again would be a deep and fulfilling pleasure, and one that I could not pass up.
There were two people by the row of graves, the silent grey stones that stood in sombre lonely lines. The man, late 50’s or early 60’s, had bent down and was shuffling the ground around one a few headstones in, reverent in his silence and at peace with his task. The lady, around the same age, had walked on ahead and a row deeper. She seemed preoccupied by other thoughts. A small yellow car sat clinging to the grass verge, half on and half off the cemetery road.
The sun continued to shine, the wind continued to make the wood of the trees creak, and the clouds continued on their worldly march.
After I had passed this scene I glanced back.
The man had risen, paying his last respect to the stone, to this clutch of earth that was forever his. I could not see the lady.
The air was close with the sun hanging low on the horizon, and the birds were flying their great mysterious circles in the air, but the cemetery was, as ever, quiet, calm and dignified. In other words it was an oasis of peace in the busy little town. It was just me, the dead and their secrets, silent as the great hanging stones that lay over them.