Dusk Upon the Cemetery

I have been strolling around the cemetery for a while, reading the names written on the graves, bottle of whisky in my left hand, nothing in my right one. Even as a young child, I would scan the names and pictures on tombstones, but most importantly, the years: the date of birth and the date of death, the arrival and the departure. And, in an instant, I would know how many years that person had lived on Earth, for how long one's soul had been caged in a dungeon of flesh and bones, what was the time during which that one had been enlightened by the holiest blessing or sentenced to the most wicked curse. Who can tell which is for whom? No one, but the dead; except that the dead can't speak. It's ironic – isn't it? – how, after birth, death is the only experience guaranteed to every single being, yet the one none of us ever gets to tell – we never get to share it. Is it a peaceful ending to a long, joyful life, a slow withering, petal by petal, of the freshest rose in the garden, hours that feel like days of agonizing terror or a dagger instantly plunged into the epicenter of existence, not even leaving enough seconds for realizing the last moment has come? No matter the correct option, the living can only ask the soulless body of the dead, who can no longer answer. They teach you to start with the end of the question when answering in school, but after the blood stops running through your veins, remaining still forever, when people ask “How did you die?” or “Why did you die?”, indeed only the end of the question, “I died…”, will echo through your cold lips, the last beginning of an answer, with no ending. “REST IN PEACE” – it lies carved into a gravestone. I sit down to rest. The warm marble slab that has been enduring the rays of the hot summer sun burns the tips of my fingers, making me startle. But, as the night is approaching, a cool breeze starts blowing through the still green leaves of the grand trees beyond the yard and through the short gravestones. The colours of the dusk shall soon be gone, making way for the majestic dark night. The marble is turning cold. For now, I'm merely resting, but soon I shall rest in peace. I absent-mindedly subtract the year of birth from the year of death. If the latter is in the century that follows the former, I divide my computing into two: I subtract the number formed of the last two digits of the first number from one hundred, then add the result to the number composed of the last two digits of the last number. Too many formers and latters, too many firsts and lasts, but at least one's life seems longer if it is extended over two centuries. The longer the computation, the longer the life; two centuries, one milestone in history. But it's often not like that, for a personal history can be so different from the universal one, yet universal history is nothing without the individual truths – another thing they don't teach you in school. It's a special kind of mathematics – that of death. In school, they teach you to divide candies among children, to multiply watermelons by money and to add sheep to sheep. They teach you to compute life; but they don't teach you to subtract life from death. Because death is eternal, perhaps. Yet we only live throughout life. Rereading the thoughts I've crowded on these pages in random order, I reached the conclusion they are chaotic. I jump from one idea to another, without finishing any, then I unexpectedly jump back. They're all interlinked, but there's no beginning and no ending; they're not even cyclic, but more like a Möbius strip that has been twisted endlessly many times, or a hard to grasp maze in a higher dimension, which leads you through the same corridors no matter where you start from or where you try to get. Quite different from life, huh? But what if… what if there's actually no chronology? If I was dead before I lived, isn't it possible for me to live after I die? One of the nearby tombstones has only one date engraved. I leave my half-empty bottle on the ground and lift a pebble instead, which I keep throwing in the air and catching with my right hand as I move along on the pathway, towards the cemetery gate. I look up at the night sky to see an ocean of stars. The air has cooled down and certainly so has the slab. It's all peaceful here now, but I don't rest in peace. For now, I'm walking.

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artist, musician, writer, Luddite

Troy, United States