* cemeteries, thrift stores & Hayden Carruth

*wonder why they call it Vine Street...*
*wonder why they call it Vine Street…*

This vine-riddled chap of a chapel can be found at the Vine Street Hill Cemetery – founded in 1849 – which we drove by yesterday on our way to a thrift store.  (We were hunting for a funky tablecloth and were not disappointed.)

In general, cemeteries are pretty charged places for people, myself included.  They are the great plots of our lives.  Ahem.

All seriously bad jokes aside, I am comforted by cemeteries because there is one that I have yet to walk through – the one where my father is buried – the location of which I have never been told.  I just know it’s out there.   A walk through a cemetery for me is a connection to all hallowed ground, here and elsewhere.  It is a space where life is put down and remembered.

Kinda like thrift stores.  A walk through a thrift store is a walk through former lives, former use and purpose.  Somebody argued over this mug, somebody turned restlessly in these sheets.  Somebody really needed/needs this black velvet painting of Elvis.

I know someone who took her grandson to a thrift store and together with him came across a tin of ashes.

Needed/needs.  There is the door you walk through in life.


The poem below by Hayden Carruth has stuck with me for some years now.  I want to call it light-hearted, but I think it’s more life-hearted.  The ending in particular moves me still to look at the world a little closer.


Graves – Hayden Carruth

Both of us had been close
to Joel, and at Joel’s death,
my friend had gone to the wake
and the memorial service
and more recently he had
visited Joel’s grave, there
at the back of the grassy
cemetery among the trees,
“a quiet, gentle place,” he said,
“befitting Joel.”  And I said,
“What’s the point of going
to look at graves?”  I went
into one of my celebrated
tirades.  “People go to look
at the grave of Keats or Hart
Crane, they go travelling just to
do it, what a waste of time.
What to do they find there?  Hell,
I wouldn’t go look at the grave
of Shakespeare if it was just
down the street.  I wouldn’t
look at — ”  And I stopped.  I
was about to say the grave of God
until I realized I’m looking at it
all the time….


Happy looking!


* photo found here.

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