“It’s a sunny day…” and The Smiths ‘Cemetery Gates’ song whistles between my ears as my little girl falls asleep in the back seat on the short drive down the west side road. It is a sunny day, between the snow storms of another winter that won’t seem to end, and I’m not entirely surprised by the 8 foot snow pile ramped up at the cemetery gate when I pull in.
In the moment it takes to blame the management and the snow plows and all the people who don’t seem to care enough I am up and over the drift after spotting remnants of the footprints of someone else who does. I follow hollows in the white that zig zag the mounting pile and hide in the freshly fallen snow. He, I assume ‘he’, has big feet like mine…only I imagine he wore proper boots and snow pants not the 3/4 Gortex runners and rolled over pant legs of Leo Romero jeans. I laugh inside and smile as my leg drops into one of the footprints to my thigh and the chill fills the open spaces around my ankles. No-one has been here for a long time…
The footsteps are deliberate…a nearly straight line to the far side of the clearing between the plots and the white light of the rocky pillows on the far side between the trees. No stones or markers, no sound, just white. The snow is so deep I know I’ll never find the little wooden snowman I’m looking for nor the marker that read, “He loved to play in the snow”…or something like that, it’s been a long time. Simple and nostalgic, almost childlike, like something his mom and dad wrote when they didn’t know what else to say…he was 60. There is no path in his direction but I dream he smiled when he saw my ill prepared retreat. I’ll be back old man.
The balance of opposites is life’s reward, revealed with eyes wide open on a cold winter day. I’ll be back. Some people are afraid of these places, of memories, or maybe their past, I don’t know…but I go there and find peace. Morrissey (in the song) says, “…with loves, and hates, and passions just like mine, they were born and then they lived and then they died.” The next line is sad so I won’t write it. Writers can do that you know. Poets and writers are like romantic thieves, like child pirates in the daylight stealing the light and leaving the rest behind, like Jim Morrison and ‘the voices on the far shore’, that seduce me like sirens at 4:00am, “live with us in forests of azure…”
“Meager food for souls forgot.”, he says, in the song, in The Graveyard Poems’, and I imagine his grave in France, and flowers, and candles, and his long hair and a new generation following in the footsteps. Follow me…
There is a long pause in the conscious stream where it is all forgotten and the moment bridges, like driving on long straight prairie roads looking for a CD and realizing I haven’t looked up in quite awhile…but everything is OK…and then the DJ in my brain streams back in like the song never ended, but it did, and I am humming another Smiths song, “Take me out tonight…take me anywhere, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care…” Smiths’ songs and Cemeteries make me smile at life and the simple pleasures before the fall, before the snowplows and cold sleepless nights.
MORE… Jack Chamberlain and Tom Gilbert present…The Smiths – Cemetery Gates (indie-vid) www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbBdWNqxkR0
The Smiths – There Ia A Light and It Never Goes Out, “Take me out tonight…” www.youtube.com/watch?v=INgXzChwipY&feature=related