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Friday, September 30, 2011

Spider lilies

I freakin' love these things. We had one in the yard growing up. Mama bought it on a lark. The leaves popped out in the spring, they grew, they died, and we forgot about it until later, much later, in the early fall, one day, we'd wake up, and there would be the gossamer red bloom, springing unannounced, unheralded from the dying, if not already dead, grass that we'd probably mow anyway.

So here I am in Charleston, the one in South Carolina, and let me tell SC now that it would do well to better emulate Charleston. I got lucky. How often do we go somewhere one might really choose to be, and then also have a spare couple of hours in which to rent a bike and see something worth seeing? Those times are few and far between, let me tell you.

And what do I do but wade through ancient graveyards. Yes, I'm weird that way, but you knew that already, and what do I espy with my little eye this day? A cemetery of tight graves and tiger lilies.

Here is the first to catch my eye. I thought it might be an anomaly, something planted by a grieving soul over a century ago, here now to brighten my unexpected day, which it did sans initial intent.
 And then another.
And another.
People spoke differently of the dead back then. Perhaps it was the constant walk with death and the on-going reminders of mortality. I suspect burying a lot of children brings a certain perspective most of us should be glad to no know. Yet, where now might you find a stone with much more than a name, a pair of dates, and maybe a poignant line or two? We don't think like this anymore, and we certainly don't speak this way anymore, which is likely a good thing owing to the underlying reasons, but in this change, I think we give up so much clarity, respect, thoughtfulness. OK, humanity.

What have we become in this pursuit of progress?

And then, with the turn of a single step, a line of simple beauty fading in the light of early fall.

I need to live here.

2 comments:

The Crow said...

Charleston is good for the soul.

I wanted to read the gravestone behind the second/third lily. I also enjoy visiting old graveyards, for the stories the headstones tell, even the sad ones of lost babes.

My grave will be marked by a millstone that's in my backyard right now.

So, when are you moving? Do you need some boxes?

Jim Penny said...

I'll be moving to Charleston directly after I secure three jobs or one winning lottery ticket. Meanwhile, the thought of a millstone serving as a market made me snortle just a little too hard this morning, and now, there's coffee dripping from my nose.