Sunday, April 13, 2014

Memory Box

In New Orleans, at the corner of Basin and St Louis streets,
in St Louis Cemetery No. 1, they bury the dead in crypts —
above the water table.  There, the spent husks are baked
to sere memory, bone and dust.  I’ve seen this as well while
traveling through the various islands of the Lesser Antilles.
From the tour bus, the cemeteries  appear on hillsides and near
churches — quaint stunted white villages of still souls.
When I disembarked in Halifax, Canada in 1952, there were
no graves.  It was a place without memories, without ancestors.
I find a place at the side of the winding roadway, begin
the short walk uphill to my father’s grave, passing  graves with
names I recognize, each one dragging memories for the damp
earth and I feel as though I am walking through a novel of histories.
My relative are buried throughout Europe in graves I do not know.
These are graves, my mother keeps close to her heart.  I
continue to excavate deep into Ontario’s rich soil, laying deep
the foundations of who I am and who I know.

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