Monday, May 23, 2011

A Portrait of Site #511

I pulled open a trap door in the ground
And propped it up like a sentinel
Guarding a secret cave-
Cool and pungent.
A ladder dropped below the surface;
its legs disappearing into the black
sparkly ether of the cosmos.

Beloved Readers,

Here she is–site# 511, splayed out in a meadow slowly becoming a forest.
Last week I bought a plot in the natural burial grounds at the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers Georgia, not far from my home in Decatur. No embalming, no vault. Shroud only or pine box with pegs. Simple flat natural rock marker will be engraved locally. And only native Georgia plantings allowed. The family can dig the grave or the monks will arrange to have it done-three and a half feet deep.

She seems so diminished. A couple of GPS coordinates describe her. She has a slight slope and a sandy clay complexion. Adolescent trees surround her head and feet–dogwood, red oak and red maple. A thread of muscadine slithers across her belly. Seedlings advance upon her chest.

I'm struck by her guileless affrontery, staring back at me in the portrait without any sign of fear or regret. She is not a mountain top. She is not a tower. She is not a pyramid or a hero on a plinth, but a humble place in time. I peek at her flat, wide torso. I need to make friends. Run my fingers through her dirt. Stroke her leaves that overhang. Press my footprints in her face.


  1. the existentialists urge us to rage against the failing of the light (death)which seemed a good, noble idea, until i realized that it is an expression of fear brought about by a belief in a disconnected Universe whereas the felt experience of interconnection dissolves such fear.
    tom ferguson

  2. You're right, Tom, I know, but I love that poem nonetheless by Dylan Thomas in which he urges his father on his deathbed to "rage, rage against the dying light, to burn and not go gentle into that quiet light. I can feel and hear his passion, despair and pain. I however am working on peace and surrender.