Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Charnel House

This past summer, when my travellin’ buds and I were on our summer excursion to Newfoundland,

 we took a little side trip to the French island of St. Pierre, just 20 kms off the Burin Peninsula.  
It was an incredibly interesting and wonderful adventure on so many levels.

My personal pick for the most intriguing and memorable adventure was our visit to the cemetery.
 I am drawn to cemeteries at any time, but this one was particularly fascinating and remarkable.

We were told there were about 10,000 people there and only 5,500 alive on the island. Indeed, it was a heavily populated piece of property.

It was like a city unto itself, with the new and modern popping up amongst the ancient and decaying.

The newer graves are pristine marble, set up like a table laden with plaques and photos and flowers, tokens of love and remembrance.

Next door could be a sad and disintegrating concrete tomb,
 with not a name or a date to be found. 

It was such a contrast, not only to each other, but to graves that we have here in our little cemetery on the corner, where even the ones that have the names worn away, 
are well cared for and adorned with flowers on Decoration Day.  
If I lived in St. Pierre, I would adopt all those people and tidy up their space.

For one such as me, who has an attraction to the old and worn – to rusty iron and weathered wood, to little fragments that have fallen away … it was a wellspring of musing.

The intriguing thing was that these graves, while bearing no indication of who rested there, most often had a crucifix, or the remnants of one, hanging on by a wire or a nail, or half buried beneath the rubble. 
 There was such an amazing diversity in style and design
 for an island that would never have had many places to acquire such a thing.

They had haunting and strikingly pensive presence, especially combined
 with the moody fog that lay suspended over the cemetery.

It became a most indelible treasure hunt for me, spotting the crucifix … finding Jesus.

Just today, I sent my first book of the year to publication:

And I wrote this poem ...

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