There’s a grave off 26th Street, about a mile west of here, a headstone in a place that sits on a hill beneath a bluff and shaded only by a few ancient poplars. There, a piece of ground is slightly depressed where a tiny casket used to lie, a patch of grass no bigger than a baby blanket. The grave sits just off a mourner’s path and overlooks a few family plots and a view of the city to the east.
I saw a map of the cemetery, once, glanced at where the ground was reserved for families, saw where soldiers from three wars were buried, and what ground was still available to demand eternity. There, on worn vellum, two rows devoted to infants were delineated by their diminution, plots not oblong but checkered. Viewing the map in a small stone building while summer lingered into almost October, I was comforted by how cool the room was. Even though it was mid-morning, the heat was already intense and I was almost relieved to be standing there, alone except for the cemetery managers, looking for squares not scratched out by hash marks. I was struck by how the room resembled something out of an Old Masters painting, a cell where some martyred Saint sat awaiting execution, contemplating God’s glory. If the room was musty at all, I could not tell; the scent of fresh cut grass rolled through the door like a rug of sod.
(Continue reading "Noble, Part II")