by David Mohan
A graveyard would be incomplete without them. Their roots must seek out the phloem of corpses, the chalky grit of headstones chips leavening the clay.
I went there originally to see you ‘put to rest’ so to speak—requiescat and all that. It’s required—the whole procession of grief. But, my love, I want to see how that requiescat worked out for you in the long run. I wasn’t satisfied with the idea in theory.
Some cultures get it right, visit the beloved’s graves and polish them spotless, scrape back loose dirt, form stray pebbles into significant words, freshen flowers. Round here I’m the only one with a half a semblance of a soul. I tidy you up, dear, because otherwise no one else would come by. This whole place is Gothic with decrepitude.
Not to mention Gothic in essence. Which I appreciate. I’ve got a taste for such things—Edgar Allen Poe, ghouls, etcetera. It’s the glamorous side of that old mortality-itch. So I enjoy the broken stone wall, the moss, the ivy, memento mori.
But it’s the yews that makes it seem like a graveyard. It wouldn’t be the same without them. I mean to say they’re like family. I sit under them when it rains. It’s dead dark under their canopy, but warmer out of the wind. It’s comforting. Fragrant in an evergreen way—like down-at-heel, malcontent Christmas trees.
I like their feather-like needles. They’re surprisingly delicate considering the burly, massive heft of the trees themselves. No doubt they’ve supped in their time on generations of blood, on dowagers, widows, orphans, pirates, lawyers, and all the rest of them. That’s why you don’t touch the orange berries, no sir—they’re the ultimate blossoming of vegetable vampires.
And that’s why I picnic amongst them—they’ve seen things, they know us all, in life and death. If you can sit under their black, spreading tents you’ve made peace with everything.
So here, returned to you, not frail lilies or gossamer roses, nothing frangible and impermanent, here I leave by your graveside as tribute a clutch of those old poisoners’ orange berries, strong and biting as gun shot, wormed out of coffins via root to snaky branch to the cold actuality of oxygen, to here, the palm of my hand as I sprinkle them near where you rest your head.
Bio—David Mohan is based in Dublin, and received a PhD in English literature from Trinity College. He came second in the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Award and won the Hennessy New Irish Writer Award. He has been published in numerous journals including Flash International magazine and The Chattahoochee Review.