Everything was beautiful and exciting there in the lush weeping grid of the cemetery. The parchment paper folded into my jacket creased and crunched with my steps. I thumbed the bits of charcoal in my jeans front pocket.

When I found the mossy tombstone—my quarry: the name—I knelt and began my ritual prayer of forgiveness. Though I play at the edges of unknowing, truly I know our part is not knowing.

Cicadas sang low to high from the surrounding willows. A thick, moistened silence followed. I placed the parchment on the gravestone and scraped the charcoal across, catching the relief of the epitaph, the range of a passed life. I took my time etching the tombstone’s skull, its eyes bold Xes, filigreed wings stretched out below the name of the dead.

THEOPHILIS QUATERMAINE PINCHES
SHIPWRIGHT, HUSBAND, FATHER
1710–1760

I sat in the walking path between gravesites and ate my lunch, a cucumber sandwich and a thermos of sweet tea. I folded the parchment back into my jacket and set off toward the mausoleums.

Walter Martin’s latest album is Reminisce Bar & Grill. The first song on this Tiny Desk set is “I Went Alone On A Solo Australian Tour.” It twists the call & response trope to fun effect. Check it out!

[Photo by tup wanders]

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