Thoughts on Blue Water, pt 2: The Cemetery

This is this second part of an on-going collection of shorts dedicated to the time I spent in Blue Water, Texas.

Down the dirt road, on our side, was the Blue Water cemetery. It was a pleasant enough destination that my mother and sister and I went there every time we visited and the weather was fine. It was familiar enough that my mother used it to illustrate the size of an acre when I asked for an example. My sister and I learnt never to walk over graves there, to the point that I even treaded carefully around the cedar where a baby had been buried over a century earlier: the grave itself was too small and too old to find under the grass, so the whole tree got the treatment. When I went alone, I sat between my great-grandparent’s headstones and told them about the boys I liked. I figured the boys I liked and why I liked them said a lot about me, and in retrospect I think I was right.

The large open space held fewer graves than it might have, and none of the plots were very rich. With a scant few exceptions, everyone at rest there had lived their entire lives within ten square miles of that place, and it seemed they felt no particular need to stake claim after the fact. Who the land belonged to was a question that didn’t need to be asked, much less argued.

There was a trail that led north from the cabin straight to the cemetery, but it was so overgrown that no one had used it in years. It emptied out into the back of the cemetery, at the west end where the oldest graves sat. Even my grandmother’s parents were closer to the east end, just about four rows in from the road. I only walked to the very west end a few times—the ages of the graves there were hard for me to grasp, and even the baby’s cedar tree plaque dated 1889 filled me with a sense of smallness and transience that my brain flirted with but ultimately refused to explore.

A tiny white chapel with a tiny white belfry stood on blocks between the road and the graves and was always locked, though we could peek inside through the double doors or, if an adult could be persuaded to provide a boost, through cloudy windows. A heavy iron chain—black but never rusty—held the doors closed, but offered whatever view one could coax out of the five inches of leeway afforded by the faulty latch. It was years before I saw the inside of that church. When I finally did, I sat alone in a pew and sang, and the room was warm and still and heavy as a heart that rarely beats.

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