Cemetery Music


(Still working on my novel when I came upon a couple of paragraphs I’d completely forgotten writing more than a year ago …)

The Orchard Depot cemetery sits on a ten acre hillside plot just south of the town limits on state highway seventeen.  The headstones are laid out in neatly aligned rows and columns that rise with the hillside until, just short of the top of the hill, they abruptly stop, halted by a woven wire fence that marks the beginning of a large hay field that belongs to Driscoll’s farm. For most of the year, the mature oak and elm and maple trees that break up the neat rows of headstones provide cool shade and whisper in the westerly breeze, and in early August, when the uncut hay is long and golden and the wind is out of the west, you can watch it make the hay dance, a gentle and golden ballet, swaying to the hushed and whispering symphony that the wind and the leaves and the hay composed and performs for the dead.

In the depths of winter, though, only the wind remains, icy cold, and with the leaves gone and the hay cut, in the gray absence of sunshine, the ballet becomes a dirge, a melancholy and empty meditation on death. Its audience, the dead, sleeps cold and restless beneath a blanket of snow, haunted by the bleak winter music.

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