At this time of memorials, on a weekend dedicated specifically for the purpose, I remembered the photograph I took upon exiting West Cemetery in Amherst Massachusetts. My specific purpose of the recent visit was to leave an amethyst remembrance at the grave of Emily Dickinson on the anniversary of her May death.
Emily’s poems impact much of my writing and in homage to her as a female writing ancestor, I wanted to pay my respects to her and visit her where all journey’s end – in “this quiet dust.” As I left Emily’s gravesite, I circled around the more grassy driveway to the less visited area of West Cemetery – the quieter still part.
I was struck by the way the morning sun struck the slanted, multi-colored stones. In this part of the cemetery, jonquils sprouted randomly, disconnected from any particular grave. Their flecks of white punctuated the stones they stood in front of. The headstones colored in earthy tones of bronze, and brown and gray, could have been lifted from an Andrew Wyeth palette. Dust permeated every particle of this somber stilled scene, from the pollen-filled air to barnacled crevices on carved stones.
This was that finite infinity that Emily often spoke of–the receding progression of names obliterated by centuries of rain and wind and sun and snow. This was the dust of the dust-to-dust that the eons had produced—the embodiment of what we are perceived to come from and what we will return to again.
As I contemplated this scene, a bit of bright color caught my eye and another bit and another. Sprinkled throughout this overgrown, seemingly forgotten space, bits of red and white and blue started to pop out. Reminders that someone still remembers our veterans, those who heeded the call to service, those who may have given their all. Someone remembers still.
Someone plants a flag and livens up this quiet dust. Someone remembers an unnamed veteran who served in an almost forgotten battle. Even in this remote realm, someone remembers. And to us, as a nation, that has made all the difference.
Have a color-filled holiday full of life and hold dear the remembrance of things now past. My wish is that we all enjoy peace. Peace.
P.S. I think there are four flags showing in this photograph but there were many more scattered amongst the stones.