The Graveyards We Live In
My grandmother brings flowers to her dead husband every week. Even when it’s raining.
It has only been six months, but I wonder if she will continue her routine when summer turns the air to hot soup, and the dry yellow grass crunches under her feet like branches or bones. Perhaps she is compelled by some unknowable force. It is almost like a religion. Or an addiction.
She brings her fresh offerings to the alter of the dead, like living sacrifices briefly preserved by sunlight and water. Until that too evaporates. You see, the problem with flowers is that they also die. But maybe that’s the idea, giving dead things to dead people. If that’s the idea, then it is simply insane. Because dead people do not want flowers or visitors, they do not require sacrifices like the gods. The dead are untethered, and have no desire for the material effects of this world.
I have not set foot in that place since the funeral, and when I drive past, I am not thinking of the dead. I am thinking of where I am going. I want to tell my grandmother this, or ask her why she brings flowers to someone who can never see them or touch them. My mother tells me it’s an expression of grief.
Okay then, let’s pretend for a moment that the dead become ghosts. Let’s pretend that she is haunted, that my grandfather beckons and calls her back to the cemetery, his voice rough and smooth like velvet curtains.
If that is the curse, then I wish I could break it. Wake her from this trance that drags her body back like driftwood caught in the tide. I am afraid the fading memory of him is pulling her closer to her own bed beside his. I am afraid if I ask her why she brings him flowers, she will say that she is decorating her new home. Because sometimes it seems like she is living there, among the headstones and angel statues, waiting until the day she moves in.
About the Author: Rachel Doggett is from Americus, Georgia where she grew up in the country. She primarily writes poetry and fiction but has recently begun exploring creative nonfiction. A few of her favorite writers include Lorrie Moore, Kim Addonizio, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. She is a senior at Georgia Southern University, pursuing a dual degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Rachel is currently working on her Honors Thesis, a chapbook of poetry based on her experiences in England and Ireland. After she completes her Bachelor’s degree, she intends to continue her education and will be applying to graduate schools this fall.