Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5: In the cemetery

My husband got some new binoculars recently so I decided to walk over to the cemetery and try them out. I don't think I heard or saw a single bird, but I always enjoy roaming around the headstones and finding my maternal grandfather's. He died when I was three, so I have only the haziest memory of him, but I've been able to locate his grave in the cemetery ever since I was five and we lived in a nearby apartment in this same neighborhood. His grave and the adjacent ones of my great-grandfather and great-uncle, whom I never knew, have served as literal touchstones for me throughout my life. I calculated once that I'd moved 15 times before I was a teenager. But no matter where we lived, I always knew where to find my grandfather's grave in Camden, even on days like today when the marker's buried under snow.

The snow revealed signs of previous visitors to these silent rows--light footprints of other humans barely visible on the crusty surface, as well as the deeper tracks of cats, squirrels, and a crow which had walked on the snow before it froze. The squirrel tracks had melted and then refrozen, and their softened edges made them look like a meandering row of hearts.

Familiar gravestones,
heart-shaped squirrel tracks in snow.
I keep coming back.

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