January 27, 2005

The Unpeopled Graveyard

There’s a big graveyard not from the center of town with only a few graves in it. Four or five over by the shaded fence, and another two under a tree, though not too close to each other. This is the burying ground for those who have died while residing at the state hospital.

A man likes to go there and draw. He likes the light at sunset, and sometimes he watches a woman who comes in and illegally unleashes her big black dog.

He lives in fear that the state will sell the land to some developer for a mall or a housing tract. But he assures himself that the relatives of the deceased would protest and the media would take up the cause.

He himself would not join such a protest.

As the years go by he spends more and more time there. He stays there in all seasons and all times of day, even at night, drawing with a little flashlight that gets strapped around his forehead. The woman with the dog never comes there anymore.

He would like to camp out in the graveyard. He thinks about it often.

His fondest dream is to be buried there. But he knows he never will. He won’t qualify. He will always be on the outside. He is only pretending to belong in this graveyard.

He sits under the tree, near the headstones he knows by heart, and draws the same things he always draws, though perhaps a little differently each time, and looks at the single white cloud over the empty green field, and wonders why he is such a fraud.